The Early Birds Get the….Leads

Stuart Miles2-freedigitalphotos.netFew people like–or plan–to be late. The same goes with showing up too early for an event. There is a feeling of awkwardness with either situation, but a recent experience has changed my theory on arriving early–especially to networking events.

Since I live nearly an hour away from most business-related events, I add an extra half hour to my departure time to ensure a time buffer. This week, however, I attended an event where I was 45 minutes early! I was thrilled, but immediately wondered what I should do to pass the time. This blog is a result of the lessons learned from that time.

Calming effect: I’m an introverted business owner, but step out of my shell every time I attend an event. My time buffer includes a few meditative minutes to calm lingering jitters and rehearse my elevator speech. It’s also a good time to make sure I have everything I need in hand for a successful event, like business cards.

Locate ideal parking: Downtown driving and parking is not my forte and one of the reasons I add extra time to the commute. Arriving extra early helped me locate where others parked. I had parked on the street at a meter, but discovered a free parking lot just across the street from the event.

Arrival habits: In addition to learning where to park, this is a great opportunity to identify the correct building and entrance. As I watched from my metered parking space, several attendees all headed for the same door, but it was locked. A few had an ID tag that got them in, but those attending the meeting did not; they had to press a button to alert a building security person. Now I could approach like a pro and not get stalled.

Identify key people: The larger the meeting, the harder it is to get close to people we’d like to meet. Plus, it’s difficult to know when and if those target contacts will be in attendance. While I was waiting and watching from my car, two people I wanted to connect with showed up! I also got an idea of how early they tend to show up.

A head start on networking: No one likes an empty room at an event, but here’s the chance to change that. Arriving early means you get a great start on introducing yourself, welcoming everyone (even if you aren’t the host) and meeting those elusive key people! By the time the meeting has begun, you’ve got the hard part out of the way. Now you can enjoy the event and follow-up with your new warm leads!

Happy writing—and networking!
Kris the Scribbler

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