I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of networking events recently. Whilst I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many different people, and making new connections, it did remind me of how daunting these situations can be for some people, particularly if it is not something you do often. So I thought I’d share a few tips on how to get the best out of your next networking event.
Have some ‘go to’ questions
Striking up a conversation with a complete stranger can be a little daunting, so if you find this nerve racking, have a couple of ‘go to’ ice breakers that you can use to kick things off. Have a bank of fairly generic questions that you can fall back on, if conversation starts to falter.
Keep your hands free and your business cards close
You are there to meet people and make new connections, so try to ensure your hands are free so you can shake lots of hands, and you have your business cards which are easily accessible. Try as you may to commit everyone’s name to memory – you will inevitably forget some, so have a pocket handy so you can distribute your business cards, and store the ones you receive.
Wear your name tag high on your jacket
Someone told me this just the other day, and I’ve realised it is so important – particularly for women! Firstly, it allows people to actually see your name easily, and also saves awkward moments with men – who will be very hesitant to stare at your name positioned firmly on your bust!
Have an exit strategy
The whole point of a networking event is to make lots of connections, so you want to have a way to politely move on from a conversation so you don’t get stuck talking to just one person the whole time.
Networking is all about making connections, and the best connections are made when you are genuine and authentic. Yes, you want to put your best foot forward and present a professional image, but don’t overdo it. Be yourself and be genuine.
There’s no point collecting 15 business cards, and then never doing anything with them! Make sure you follow up with the people you have connected with after the event, and do it within a day or so whilst you are still fresh in their mind. Personalise your message, and aim to add value to them
And…..don’t spam anyone!