How many times have you been to an event and left wishing you’d met more people? It’s common these days, so here are some of my tips on networking at events.
Depending on the event type, you might be able to do some research beforehand on the attendees. If you can, I highly suggest you do. If you happen to notice someone you want to meet, then you can prepare yourself prior. It might be that your boss wants an introduction to someone at the company they work for, or you may just really want to meet them. Whatever the reason, be prepared and ready.
Before you get to the event, ask yourself what it is that you’re hoping to achieve. Why are you attending? Once you have a clear picture of what it is that you’re looking for, it will make networking easier.
When you meet someone new, shake their hand, make good eye contact and I find repeating their name can actually help you remember their name. For example;
Carmel: Hi, my name is Carmel. And you are?...
Jessica: Hi I’m Jessica
Carmel: It’s nice to meet you Jessica. How are you today?
Jessica: I’m great thanks and you?
Carmel: I’m great thanks for asking Jessica. Which company do you work for?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lots of them. Everyone at networking events understands that meeting new people requires questions. Everyone will be looking to do the same thing as you so the more questions you ask, the more you will get to know them. Chances are you will learn something new, which is always a win!
A really important thing to remember when networking is that nobody likes people who push their products/services on people. You aren’t there to sell, promote or source new leads. You’re simply there to meet new people so don’t go pushing your products/services.
Your body language is also important. Keep an "open" posture. Head up with your arms and legs uncrossed. This conveys an openness to being approached. Looking at the floor or crossing your arms, on the other hand, can convey shyness, unfriendliness or even hostility. So be sure to stay as open as possible. And remember to smile.
Be a listener and give your full attention. It can be tempting to continue scanning the room while you talk with someone, but that’s a great way to make a person feel small. When you're with someone, give them your undivided attention, just as you would expect them to do with you.
My biggest tip is to remember to bring your business cards. When I first started networking, the biggest mistake I made was not having enough business cards at hand to give to people I just met. Make sure you have at least 10 with you.
And lastly, challenge yourself. At the next networking event you go to, try to get at least 5 business cards from the people you have just met. Once you get home or back to work, write down on the card the event where you met them, it’s a good way to remember who they are, because you never know, one day you might just need them.
So, will you accept the challenge? I hope you do.