Have you been curious about checking out a Freelancer’s Union Spark event, but are shy when it comes to meeting new people? Or maybe you’re interested in another networking event, but have a hard time convincing yourself to make it out after a hard day of work.

Regardless of the situation, pumping yourself up and actually making it out to a networking event is not something every freelancer has successfully accomplished.

Although I hate invoking the psychology of FOMO, there’s a lot to be missed when you blow off a networking event.

  • Meeting potential collaborators (like a freelancer who offers web design services, when you offer copywriting - a perfect match for referrals!)

  • Establishing yourself as the go-to for a certain service within a group (this usually happens with consistent attendance at the same event) A new customer!!

In-person connections are much deeper and happen more immediately than with online networking. The time and energy investment is worth it.

Here’s how to get excited about a networking event.

Bring a Friend

Nervous about navigating the crowd alone? Then don’t! Bring a networking wingman or wingwoman to take the pressure off! Just make sure you’re both generous about talking each other up, and not stealing the spotlight.

For bonus points, if they cancel on you (it happens!), give yourself the challenge to go and check it out for at least 15 minutes. Chances are good that you’ll find someone else who got ditched, or looks a bit uncomfortable on your own - it’s your perfect chance to make a connection.

Visualize your Plan of Attack

Have you heard of The Secret? It’s a book that teaches readers to visualize their path to success in order to effectively achieve it. The same technique can be applied to networking events.

Try visualizing yourself entering the venue, approaching someone (complete with a good intro/elevator pitch), exchanging business cards, and approaching someone else. Having a plan is a great way to alleviate networking stress.

Prepare for the Event

This is a multi-step process, but those that put in the effort are often rewarded.

Bring Business Cards

It’s kind of unprofessional to show up for a networking event without making it easy for people to connect with you afterwards, and you shouldn’t count on them to pick up the slack. So make sure that you’ve packed a handful of business cards before heading out the door. And make sure to follow up with anyone you exchanged information with immediately after the event!

Dress Professionally

Even at a casual event, make an effort to dress up. Just like at a 9-5, the effort you put into your appearance says something about your professional aspirations. Dressing in kind shows that you take the event seriously, and attendees will be drawn to you.

Research Attendees

If there’s information available that shows who will be in attendance, do some research and make a list of targets who you think could be potential collaborators or clients. You don’t need to go overboard, just make yourself aware.

By taking the time to do your research, you’ll put yourself in a better mindset that will make you feel better about attending the event.

How to Get Excited About A Networking Event

These tips will help you, but everyone has their own style. What would you recommend for how to get excited about a networking event? Tweet your tips to @freelancersu, and we’ll share our favorites so that our community can continue to push forward for success!

Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. As a co-founder of the Denver chapter of Freelancers Union Spark, she has a lot to offer freelancers on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com. Get in touch on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.