Making Great Contacts at Awards Events

Article by Frank TraditiEvery year, companies, associations, and nonprofits take the time to recognize the achievements of important people. In your local paper, trade journal, or association newsletter, you’ll always find award ceremonies listed. Some are local groups, but you’ll also find national organizations sponsoring celebrations in your town.

Why am I telling you this? Because these events are terrific places to meet and greet powerful, successful people who you want to have in your network.

Recently, in just one week, I attended three different awards events celebrating individual and company achievements in my community. I got the opportunity to meet some great people, including the winners of the awards. Two of these events drew hundreds of people. In fact, one was attended by over 500 people at 7:00 A.M!

Many organizations like to recognize individuals and companies for their achievements throughout the year. These events are organized to bring together like-minded people to witness what it takes to be successful. And there is a place set for you at these tables.

So what happens at these events?

  • There’s always a chance to meet people before the event starts
  • Everyone is in a good mood because it’s a celebration
  • Most times the event is a breakfast or lunch with tables of 8-10 people
  • There’s an opportunity to meet everyone at the table and tell your story
  • Usually there are several winners and types of awards
  • There is always a keynote speaker or panel of experts
  • They typically draw a large crowd of people, giving you many choices for people to meet
  • Plenty of movers and shakers attend — the influential people in your community

These circumstances are ideal for making great contacts. The environment lends itself to open and productive conversations and relationship building. Everyone is there to learn how the award-winning companies and individuals did it. This is a perfect opportunity to start a dialogue with anyone at the event. They all want to discover the award-winners’ secrets.

How can you maximize your time at events like this? It’s not that difficult and can ultimately create a substantial payoff.

Personally introduce yourself to the winners. They’ll be at an emotional high point and more than happy to hear your congratulations and appreciation. Tell them how motivated you were to hear their story. Share in their excitement.

Meet the special guests or panelists. These are usually high-powered, influential people. Recently I met the Executive Director who oversees all aspects of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball teams. I’m a business coach, and she works with many sports coaches, so we had a direct connection. She had some very insightful words about being a winner. She is now in my network.

Talk to the movers and shakers. It’s almost guaranteed there will be at least one center of influence seated at your table. Make it a priority to spend a moment or two talking with this person. He or she will be more than happy to speak with you and maybe even introduce you to others.

Introduce yourself to the team who organized the event. Tell them how good a job they did. Remember that they had to talk to many key people in the community to pull off this event. They can potentially be your connection point to those organizations. Take it a step further and volunteer to help with their next event.

Sit with people you haven’t met before. Introduce yourself and tell them what you do. Remember developing your “elevator speech”? This is where that comes in very handy.

A good resource for finding awards events is your local Business Times or Business Journal. Look for the events calendar for cities near you. Also look in your local daily newspaper and your neighborhood newspaper. You’ll find award ceremonies listed in the Community Calendar or Business Calendar sections.

Make it a habit to reserve a seat at these events. You’ll meet important people and make worthwhile contacts.

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