It’s easier than you think
While the Internet opens doors to networking opportunities you never would have imagined possible, there is still no replacement for a good face-to-face networking event. Conferences, press events, launch parties, meetups and workshops are great places to meet and connect with new people. Handle it right, and you might make connections that would help you in your business.
Such events are filled with people who all want to make an impact. Networking may seem like a daunting task, but the key is to make a great first impression. Find the sweet balance between asking them about themselves and showing them what you have to offer!
Shameless self-promotion, especially to people you just met, is a guaranteed conversation killer. Plus, it makes you look desperate. Networking is not just talking about yourself but also listening to others.
Ready to start networking? Take note of these reminders and make a great impression!
Loosen up those face muscles and practice your brightest smile. Smiling is your best way to catch someone’s attention during a conference, and it makes you a lot more approachable. Plus, people are more likely to remember someone with a pleasant disposition.
2. Practice active listening
Pro-tip: let the other person speak first! Listen to how people talk and what they say about themselves. Take note of the information they choose to say, and ask them with follow up questions about it. This shows that you are listening and not just hearing. When in a group of people, make connections between what other people are saying and use it as a springboard to improve the flow of the conversation!
3. Be yourself
Anyone can spot a try-hard from a mile away. Learn to be confident in yourself and your skills, and don’t try to pretend to be someone you’re not!
4. Make genuine connections
While networking means expanding your professional connections, making meaningful connections in the long run involves expressing genuine interest in others and in what they do.
5. Get to the point
If you talk about yourself in long winding sentences, you’ll most likely bore everyone around you and lose their attention. Keep introductions to 2 to 3 sentences. Pique their curiosity and let them ask the questions!
6. Do your research
Want to talk to the keynote speaker? It doesn’t hurt to do a quick research about them and their work, so you don’t have to ask obvious and redundant questions when you meet them. Listen and take notes during their talk, and ask them questions that would help you learn or that you can use to seamlessly segue to other relevant concerns.
7. Balance friendliness with professionalism
Take extra care not to overshare about yourself! Know what kinds of questions are appropriate to ask, and learn to read a room. If you notice that the conversation has taken an awkward turn, it’s better to end it than drag on with the cringe. Don’t make a big deal out of awkward situations and minor mishaps. You don’t want them remembering that impression of you!
8.Bring a friend (or two)
It’s definitely more comfortable to have a friend with you when you’re in a room full of strangers. Talk to your friend and approach people together. It would also be easier to tell other people about yourself since you have a friend who can do it for you (and vice versa). Be each other’s wingman, and build genuine connections.
Bonus: You now have several business cards and contact info from the productive networking spree. Up your game and follow up on those new connections. Drop them a line on their LinkedIn, email, or relevant social media page (if it’s on their business card, of course). But, it’s important to personalize your greetings and not sound like a canned response. If all goes well, you can schedule a follow-up meeting and interview!