If done well, your next big opportunity could be on the other side of that short conversation you had. Networking can be nerve wracking, but practice and these keys will help.
Usually networkers have an attitude of “I gotta get a job, get a client, or get a sale.” But attending with a mindset of how you can help someone else with their job, career, or project takes lots of pressure off your brain. Have a goal of leaving with at least 3 people’s cards that you know you will follow-up with.
So, here we go, prepare and proceed!
- Dress for the Event: Business attire is expected at networking events, unless otherwise stated. If you intend to acquire business from the event, wear appropriate clothing.
- Practice Your Intro: It could be a variation of: “Hi, how are you? This is a fun, (beautiful, cool, jazzy) venue, I’m (your full name) I’ve never been here before, have you?” Or, “I love events here, the staff is so welcoming, and friendly, what do you think?” “I’m (your full name), please tell me yours.”
- Perfect Your Handshake: Your hand should be warm, and dry; shake web-to-web and match the firmness of the other person. Hold beverages in left hand, keeping the right free to shake.
- Have Conversation Starters: “How did you find out about…?”; “Have you worked with (organization/sponsor/host) before?” Always speak positively. Steer clear of controversial topics.
- Arrive no later than half hour after the set time. Walk in with your head up and a smile on your face, acknowledging everyone you encounter (at the reception table, waiting at the bar, etc.)
- Put the name tag on your RIGHT shoulder and keep your business cards close.
- Take a moment to peruse the room. Approach folks standing alone, they’re more open to conversation, be fully engaged.
- Move on after you have made the last comment. Like: “That’s very interesting. I wish you success in your project. I’m going to meet some other people, so nice meeting you.” You work the room moving to the next closest group of three. Do not interject. Check the group’s body language and wait until you are invited into the group.
- Ask for cards from people with whom you want to connect; read it, and place it away with care…then follow-up. Always accept others cards. Ideally, you want people to ask for your card but if they don’t, ask “May I give you my card?” Their response to this question, will indicate interest.
- Never over indulge in appetizers or cocktails. Do not be the last to leave. Thank the host on your way out.
People do business with people they like. Networking is great way to showcase your pleasant personality and excellent social skills. Need help polishing your networking skills?