Networking.

That’s a big word, isn’t it?

We all have heard sayings like “you’re as powerful as your network” and the advice that you must network to have an effective and fulfilling career, but as true as you know those sayings are, networking is still daunting.

Perhaps the most daunting piece of growing your network is knowing how to make sure that people will remember you. How do you make an impression at a trade show or a conference that will catch the other person’s interest?

Here are a few tips to make your networking efforts ultra effective:

  1. Be Different

One thing that makes us remember something is when we experience a pattern interruption—anything that goes against a pattern of a common occurrence.

For instance, say you were to be in a room with a bunch of people who wore black suits. You’d be remembered if you wore a white suit.

This can be applied to networking, too. People will not only remember you if you interrupt the patterns, or norms of your industry, but they’ll also be drawn to you.

At your next trade show or conference, who would you remember the most:
The person who gave you a plain, rectangle business card, or the hairdresser that handed out business cards in the shape of scissors?

If you can be different in some way, you’ll stand out from—and attract—the crowd.

  1. Ask Questions

The easiest way to connect with somebody is to show curiosity about them.

This might tie into the last point, because unfortunately curiosity surprises people. In a world where we like to talk about ourselves, our own businesses, and what we bring to the table, it’s refreshing, memorable, and completely compelling to talk to somebody who would rather talk about you.

And the best way to demonstrate this desire to know more about who you’re talking to is by asking questions.

Before your next event, sit down and list out some questions that are different from the standard questions everybody asks. This will help you go deeper and get more telling answers, which will bond you with whomever you’re talking to.

For example, instead of asking “how are you?” ask “what is inspiring you these days?” or “what is your biggest business challenge?”

If you make it all about them and dig deeper, you’ll work your way into a bigger network in no time.

And who knows? You might learn a thing or two!

  1. Avoid the Magnets

In every event, whether it’s a trade show, a conference, or even a simple meet up, there are magnets—people who others seem drawn to, like a moth to a light.

Sometimes, others are drawn to the “magnets” because they are loud, or command attention, or seem powerful. Sometimes they are the best-dressed or well-known leaders.

But instead of following the crowd and spending your time at these events trying to chat with the magnets, look for others who are sticking to the sidelines and strike up a conversation with them. You’ll be able to form deeper relationships with those people than you will with the person everybody is vying for attention from, and chances are they’ll have a lot more to offer, too.

  1. Don’t Attend with Friends!

This is a big blunder that many new networkers make:

They attend networking events with a friend or a colleague.

This is a huge mistake, because attending these events with a friend is like bringing a security blanket. Except that security blanket keeps you secure in your own untouchable bubble.

It may feel a bit more comfortable to go to an event with a friend, but you are far more likely to stick by their side and just chat with them – completely negating the whole point of your attendance at this event.

Furthermore, people won’t feel as comfortable approaching you (or your friend!) because they’ll feel as if they’re breaking up a conversation or intruding.

Do yourself a favor and leave the friend time for before or after your event and fly solo during the show or conference.

It’s true that networking can be scary when you’re first venturing out into the world of trade shows and conferences, but spending the time to get to know people will be the best hours you’ve spent.

A lot of great things – including friendships, partnerships and more business – can come from your network, and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity.

So take these tips to make yourself stand out, meet more people and maximize the time you’re spending at each event.