While growing your visibility online is key to building business and attracting new clients, it’s important to remember that networking in person is vital as well. Connecting in person is the most direct and memorable way to make an impression, whether on a potential client or referral. But just showing up with a pocketful of business cards with the intention of exchanging them for others’ cards is not the best mindset. Taking the time to plan your strategy in advance will increase your success. You might consider:
- asking the organizers if there will be a list of participants available. While it may not be possible to see it in advance, it’s worth your while to arrive at the event a bit early if you’ll be able to peruse the list there. That way you can seek out the people who you’d like to meet.
- volunteering to help with the registration desk – this is an excellent way to meet many people quickly. When welcoming attendees, you can shake their hand and state your name – you’ve now got an opening to approach them later to start a conversation.
Looking for events with English speakers in the Milan area? Here are some groups that organize events that don’t require a paid membership to attend:
American Business Group Milan organizes a monthly networking lunch with a brief (usually 10 minute) presentation by someone of interest to the English-speaking community. Get there early to take advantage of the half-hour cocktail before taking your seat for the meal. First-timers are given the opportunity to briefly introduce themselves to the group. Varied nationalities, all English-speaking attendees.
American Chamber of Commerce holds networking cocktails a few times a year. The attendees tend to be mostly Italian, some more fluent in English than others. Usually sponsored – and therefore free.
Professional Women’s Association of Milan (PWA Milan) organizes events that are usually open to women only, although they have a couple of events per year open to men as well. A good mix of nationalities and nearly all English-speakers. Their Networking Aperitivi usually include an exercise that encourages interaction among participants, especially helpful for those who don’t already know others there.