Many people view networking as an essential part of their career, but how many of us are comfortable with the thought of it? Whether over a dinner event or at an industry conference, one may feel uncertain as to whom he or she should talk to, or how to exude the effortless charm that others exhibit. Here are some tips to make networking a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for you!
Do not to spend too long a time with a single person, especially if you have been the party steering the conversation most of the time. Set reasonable goals, such that you will have at least 3 to 5 connections to follow-up with after the event. In short, tap on the bridge that you have already built, and don’t linger on a single bridge for too long.
Use associations to remember names
Be sure to remember the names of the people you meet and the conversation that ensued during the networking session. Find an opportunity to exchange business cards or connect on LinkedIn. You can also use associations where feasible, such as similar sounding items, to remember people’s names. If you are introduced to Flora, think immediately of a stalk of flower to create a visual impression that will help you to remember her name.
Rather than start with the usual “where do you work?” or “what do you do?”, steer the conversation around more light-hearted topics, such as food or positive comments about the venue; these will act as ice breakers to the conversation and allow you to appear sociable, friendly and genuinely interested to make a connection.
Mindset – What do I have to offer?
People often enter a networking session with set goals on how many connections or “sales pitches” they can make. Rather than thinking about what the other party can offer to you and your organisation, think of how you can help others instead. When talking to others, try coming from an angle of “I believe I know something/someone who can help with your plans; let me send more information your way.”
People love to talk about their goals and of themselves; if you appear to be a platform by which they can share their vision and goals, there is a higher chance that they would be willing to work with you if you provide the solution that they need.
Save the Awkwardness – Connect Online
In an increasingly digital world, it is much easier to connect with others prior to and after the event. If you are more introverted, reach out to people online prior to attending the event. It could also be helpful to attend the event with a colleague/friend to ease the tension.
Similarly, after the networking session, connecting with people online, and asking them to follow your blog or page will allow for more opportunities for follow-up and continued conversations.