By: Marc Wessels
Network drinks parties are an important part of corporate life in the Netherlands. A borrel (network drinks party) is an informal event for members of the business community where they can meet new business contacts while enjoying a drink and a snack. Good networking skills can lead to fruitful new collaborations with contacts from companies you may not have met under different circumstances.
Avoid jumping straight into work mode
At a network drinks party, the idea is to avoid talking business straight away. These events are about making connections. Bring your business cards with you and hand them out to any conversation partners you believe might be useful contacts in the future. As the conversation develops and you find out more about your conversation partner, eventually the topic of work will naturally come up and you can decide if you want to keep in touch. Don’t expect too much from these events and manage your expectations.
If you think a borrel will lead to hundreds of new clients, think again. Networking is a way of building long-term relationships by creating trust and making the right connections. After attending a number of these events, eventually you’ll reap the rewards.
Check out the guest list and prepare for the event
There is a guest list for every network drinks party, so make sure to check the names for anyone you might want to meet. Make sure you’re prepared, so you don’t embarrass yourself or come across as unprofessional during the event. A great way to meet the right people is to ask the event organisers to make your introductions for you as this gives you an immediate conversation starter.
Focus on listening
A common mistake people make is talking too much. It’s just as important to listen, so you can both figure out what you can do for each other. To show your conversation partner that you’re truly interested, we suggest you listen carefully, ask follow-up questions and request clarification when necessary as this can only work to your advantage.
Follow-up with your new contacts the next day
You will probably amass quite a collection of business cards during the event. Don’t let your efforts go to waste – make sure you follow-up by sending an email or getting in touch through LinkedIn the very next day. Refer to the conversation you had the other night and ask a few more specific questions.
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