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Five ways to help your visitors feel welcome

How to Help your Networking Visitors feel welcome by Matthew BroomheadYou know how we get an invite to a business networking group for the first time, well many of us will feel a little trepidation.

If you are an experienced networker then sometimes we forget what it was like when we first entered a room with our brand new shiny business cards and were either told by our manager to “go out there and get some business” or we were setting up our own business and had to find our own clients.

If you organise or regularly attend a networking group I thought I would share with you five ideas to help your new visitors feel welcome. Visitors are crucial and we only get one chance for a first impression. Depending on your level of experience, some may appear more obvious than others.

1 Know the visitor is attending

Virtually all networking events will require you to tell the organiser you are attending and usually signup via Eventbrite or similar system.

Can I suggest that what makes an event a little more special is if you turn up and the welcome desk person has your answer to the question “how did you hear about this event?”

What if they said to you something like…

“Lovely to meet you. Am I right in thinking Neil has invited you today? Neil’s a great guy. I’ll tell him you’ve arrived.”

All of a sudden you’ve gone from being “another person on a list” to a known person that is part of the group.

2 Have a welcoming team.

I don’t mean someone that stands behind a desk and ticks a box next to your name on a sheet of paper and that’s all they do. Have a few people constantly rotating and taking visitors from the welcome desk to meet the rest of the attendees. Their role includes: getting the new visitor a drink: establish if they have been to similar meetings; do they know anyone there?; do they want to be introduced to someone in particular?; explaining the location of facilities in the venue.

3 Wear easy to read name badges (that are placed appropriately).

It’s not unusual to forget someone’s name and yet it is the most important two words you will learn about a person in that networking event. I’ve found the fabric stickers to be a bit better as they are not as abrasive as normal address label stickers or safety pins that make holes in clothes.

4 Talk to your Visitors!

On a few occasions I have seen regular attendees of a networking group stick to their own “clicks” and not interact with the new visitors. However experienced, we are all guilty of this at some point.

5 Have a special seat for your visitors.

Depending on the group and seating arrangements, then sit your visitors in a place close to the leaders of the group. Make them feel special because you may never see them again.
There are lots of other ideas for visitors during the event and following up afterwards, but that’s for another Article.

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