By: Sally Riker, F.SAME
Partner, Director of Business Development
April 23, 2019
Networking is part of my job description. I think I was born for networking without knowing really what it was, formally speaking. But while it may come easy for me, this isn’t the case for many others. Some people dread it and avoid the effort altogether, while others are open to the activity (even if it’s out of their comfort zone) but may not know where to start. For everyone though, the following are some tips that have worked for me and might help boost your own networking confidence:
- Make eye contact and engage. When you are talking to someone, focus in on them. Don’t look around the room once you have engaged someone. Really connect with them and listen to what they are saying.
- Smile. It’s amazing what a warm smile can do.
- Always have a plan for how you move around the room. Act deliberate. Don’t be a wall flower and stand in the corner. Move to areas that are crowded.
- Keep your hands busy. Eat and drink. Find a happening table to sit or stand at. Once done, repeat the action because you can meet more people this way.
- Once engaged in conversation, find one thing in common with the person you are speaking to and talk about it.
- Remember, it’s about them and not about you. People love to hear themselves talk. Ask open-ended questions.
- If it’s your first time meeting someone, remember to keep the conversation light and fun—unless the person you are speaking with goes deeper.
- Prepare before arriving at the event. Know your audience. Look up a few profiles of people who will also be attending. Even ask for an attendance list, if that is possible.
- If all else fails, you get uncomfortable, and don’t have another strategic move, head to the restroom and regroup. You can also walk over to the food table and get another small bite to eat or some water/coffee/drink.
- The cocktail line is always a great place to meet people. Talk to people in front of and behind you, and while waiting at the bar. At one event, I just kept walking back and forth, meeting and greeting along the line. At another, I located my conference booth near the food and drink tables because they are such a crowd-driver.
- Work on finding at least one good connection and, at the next event, find that person ASAP.
In closing, remember to follow up with people you met after the event. And, if you promised anything to anyone, follow through and do it!