How to network at the ECCCSAs
The European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards on Tuesday 26 November is a great networking opportunity for customer contact professionals at any level.
As well as catching up with old friends or ex-colleagues, you may also want to find out how another contact centre overcame a challenge, or you may want to be introduced to a peer for inspiration for your next project, or speak to someone about how a technology works and has delivered huge value.
Expanding your network is a great way of broadening your career options; helping you go further within your organisation or giving you options for moving on.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the networking opportunity on the night.
1. Know who’s going
Using LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media platforms, find out who’s going before the evening. Ok, the organisers can’t tell you, but ask around, message people and make it known that you’re attending to help you find out who’s going.
Also, look at the list of Finalists and the sponsors. The chances are they will be going.
2. Plan your evening
When you know who’s going, start planning your evening. You may want to contact people beforehand to arrange to meet them in the bar at the start of the evening, or to simply let them know you’ll be there and you’ll pop by their table to say ‘hello’.
For each person you want to meet, plan what you want to achieve from the conversation. Do you simply want to keep in touch and say hello, or maybe progress a sales opportunity, or introduce yourself to arrange a meeting in the days that follow.
Update yourself with their situation so that you can start the conversation talking about them. Be ready to listen to what they have to say – not just what you want to hear.
3. Remember the etiquette
Remember that most people will be at the awards with colleagues celebrating their achievements. They may not want to be interrupted by a stranger between courses. They may have their own objectives for the evening – and that might not include talking to you!
If you approach people unsolicited, it’s like cold calling. You may get a knock back, or you may damage your reputation if you are rude or outstay your welcome. Read the situation, and if the person you’re talking to becomes more interested in other people around the table or what’s going on over your shoulder, then it’s time to move on.
Of course, if you’re planning to speak to a number of people, then you don’t want to be stuck talking to the same person for too long either!
4. Have a valued conversation
You finally get to speak to someone on your hit list. Hopefully you’ve got your opening line ready to go. Make the other person feel great – “so glad I found you”, “great to see you”, “you look fabulous” – they are more likely to give you their ear. Then start asking questions – focus on the positives; it’s a fun evening after all! Make sure you give them something too – maybe some insight, share an opinion or invite them to an event.
At the end of the conversation, go for the close. Fixing a follow up call or meeting date or time will be difficult in this environment, so it may be better to go for arranging a call the following day or next week. In some instances, you could arrange breakfast for the following morning, or you can identify an event where you’ll both be.
5. Continue the conversation
When you wake up the following morning, work through the list of people that you spoke to. If you spoke to someone new, drop them an invite to connect via LinkedIn, and follow up with a message through the LinkedIn platform or via email. Ask for a follow up meeting, offer dates and times – or confirm the meeting you verbally arranged the night before. Don’t forget to send the meeting request to get it in their diary so that they don’t forget you.
Good luck and enjoy the evening.
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