What Not To Do At A Networking Event

Networking events are a great way to get out and meet someone new. And if you approach it correctly, you can pick up a client or two at almost every event you attend.

Many networking events now offer the opportunity for businesses to put in door prizes. Door prizes offer a lot of things:

  • They can help the event planner generate more interest in the networking event
  • They can help you get your name out there and start building your brand
  • They can help connect you to a potential business client

Yet not everyone understands what you should and shouldn’t do with a door prize.

Last night Andrew set off for an event in Downtown Denver. And after making a few connections and chatting with a few old friends, he was almost ready to go when they announced it was time for the door prizes.

As long as you’re there, why not stick around and see if you win?

They announced a prize, and pulled the winning business card.

And he won.

But then he went up to claim his prize, and read the 8×11 sheet of paper.

One Hundred Fifty Reasons To Travel
Take $150.00 off your net Vacation!
Coupon applies to a minimum 5 night all inclusive package
Limit one coupon per room – not applicable to internet price matches
Travel pkg must be booked (under deposit) by 12/15/11

Really?

So in order to “claim” the prize, we have to spend $1,000 or more? And I can’t even get the best deal – or an Internet match – I have to go with whatever price you quote me?

Really?

I’m betting this person probably hands out “prizes” like this all over town. And I’m also willing to bet she never gets a call back, and probably wonders why.

And more than anything, she probably doesn’t realize she’s creating more disgruntled people that would NEVER use her services at every networking event she attends.

The idea behind a networking event is you create a connection. You find something you have in common, find someone you can make smile and leave the event a little happier then when they came in.

A door prize should be:

  • Something that has perceived value
  • Something that can be used as is
  • Something with no strings attached
  • Something that will be used by whoever wins it

For a photographer, a door prize might be a frame, an album, or even a small point and shoot camera. They are related to your industry, yet meet the above qualifications.

When someone wins your door prize, by all means make contact with them. Exchange business cards, and check in with them in a week or so to see how they like the gift, and if you could meet for coffee to learn more about what they do.

Then the connection starts. And you have a much greater chance of creating a friend, a referral source, and someone that will happily talk about you and your business with their friends and acquaintances.

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We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • Fred Claus

    Thanks for the tips. Many times I give a gift certificate for a free session and an 11×14 print. No strings attached. Is that a good door prize?

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    Fred

    I would say it depends on the networking event. Its great at a bridal show because they are thinking “photography”. But if you’re at a monthly networking event, lets say for a Chamber of Commerce event, its probably not the best choice. You don’t know who will win it and what the situation will be. A better gift would be a frame, or a small camera, of a gift basket with a few photo related things in it. It still gets your name out there, but doesn’t require them to come in and work with you. Then I always try and have lunch or coffee with the winner just so you can get to know each other better. They may end up being a great referral source for you just by being friends first with no strings attached.
    Lori