Networking can be daunting, but it is necessary. Here are a few tips on how to get started… and make the best of it.
My TIP: Make the first move
When you are networking and it is an event where you don’t know anyone, make the first move! That is what you are there for right? I know, it can be hard, but once you get going, it can be fun and beneficial. Networking is a learning exercise. You need to listen and take everything in. You need to remember names, occupations etc. If you can do this well, it can pay off.
- Do make small talk – some ideas of what to talk about may include, the weather, yes the weather! It is an old cliché, but it still works.
- Check out the news on your phone before arriving – there will always be a hot topic to discuss.
- Ask people how they know the host.
- Ask people what brings them to the event.
- Ask people where they work and this will lead onto what they do, do they enjoy it…
- You can talk about the food and/or the venue.
- Share information, people are genuinely interested in other people.
This is a good start.
I also recommend using your ‘party skills’. Think about when you host a party. You use your confidence, objectivity and communication skills. You talk to as many people in the room as you can, you listen and respond. Follow the same principals and you will enjoy your networking and get a lot more out of it.
When you strike up a conversation and build rapport then it is time to exchange business cards. I don’t recommend pushing these in people’s face at first glance. Have a conversation first. Networking is not sales… it is networking. It is getting to know people and meeting new people for business and personal reasons. It is good old fashioned social engagement in person!
I also suggest a follow up with the people you made a connection with. Connect with them on social media, follow their company on LinkedIn and Twitter and connect with them personally. If you have something specific to follow up, do so with a personal email or phone call after a few days. A little goes a long way.
I’ll see you out there! Be yourself and have fun with it.
Joey Cooney, Principal Consultant, Selection Partners