Events Are Back!

After the cancellation and postponement of so many events, I’m personally thrilled to see that in-person events are once again being scheduled and held – safely of course! And I’m particularly excited about Detroit Philanthropy’s upcoming Industry Networking Event on March 16 (click here to learn more).


With the ability to gather in person once again, we all likely need a quick refresher on how best to capitalize on the connections made at these gatherings, so below I’ve outlined a few of my tips.


Before the Event

  1. Do Your Research – Do your best to find out who is going to be in the room so you can research any potential synergies. Having a targeted list of people to find and speak with can help maximize your time, especially at larger events.
  2. Have Something to Talk About – Anything new at work? Something interesting going on in your personal life? Exciting updates at your organization? Make sure you have a few fun and interesting facts that you can share. Having something interesting and engaging to discuss is important, especially since you might be seeing some people for the first time in quite a while. It’s also important to think through the ‘how can I help’ question. Our sector in particular is full of ‘helpers,’ so having a quick and defined answer at the ready is important.
  3. Take your Business Cards – I know I’m not the only one to have gone to an event recently and realized I didn’t have cards with me. After two years of zoom meetings, I simply forgot to put them back in my purse. Don’t find yourself in this position too!


At the Event

  1. Don’t be Shy – Remember, everyone in the room is there because they are open to connecting. Don’t be afraid to approach people. If you are a bit of an introvert though, I find it can be helpful to find a buddy/ally who you can work the room with and make mutual introductions.
  2. Listen, listen, listen – As the saying goes, ‘we have 2 ears and only one mouth for a reason!’
    Which means, we should be listening twice as much as we are talking. I get how easy it is to slip into ‘selling mode’ by sharing all about you and your organization, but it’s simply not an effective strategy for building relationships. The conversation should be a two-way street, so be sure you are also asking lots of questions and listening.
  3. Exchange Cards – Remember those business cards you were sure to stock up on? Remember to actually hand them out and collect them from others! It’s the best way to ensure you can follow-up on the conversation and stay in touch.


After the Event

  1. Follow-up Promptly – Send a note to everyone you met letting them know you enjoyed chatting and, if applicable, follow-up on any parts of the conversation. People always appreciate a note of gratitude and a prompt follow-up. Some suggestions:
    • It was wonderful seeing you again after so long. Let’s get together again soon.
    • I enjoyed meeting you! As promised, I’m sending along more information about XYZ.
    • I really enjoyed our conversation and was sorry we didn’t have a chance to talk longer. Can we grab coffee sometime soon?
    • It was wonderful hearing about XYZ. Let me know if I can ever be helpful.
  2. Connect on LinkedIn – Be sure to connect on LinkedIn with anyone new you’ve met. It’s a great way to ‘softly’ stay in touch. If you’re LinkedIn page isn’t up to date, make sure it is! Click here for a helpful resource.


I hope you found these tips helpful, or at least simply a good reminder, and I hope to see you at an upcoming event! Whether it’s at our Industry Networking Event or another gathering, I look forward to (re)connecting!


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About Rachel M. Decker

Having spent nearly 20 years in the nonprofit sector as an effective and strategic fundraising and foundation executive, Detroit Philanthropy Founder and President, Rachel Decker is passionate about helping others, making meaningful connections, solving problems and, most importantly, creating impact in our community. With the founding of Detroit Philanthropy, she turned that passion into a commitment to champion philanthropy throughout metro Detroit as a philanthropic advisor, fundraising consultant and speaker.

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