In this blog, we will look at some general tips on how to work a room at a general networking event and how to make some new business acquaintances.
Some of these points are obvious but worth mentioning because of their importance!
- Make sure you have easy access to your business cards… nothing more embarrassing than fumbling around trying to prize one out of your battered wallet!
Best practice would be to keep a stack in your breast pocket positioned so that when you produce one, it will be face up and writing towards the receiver. Slick.
- Usually these events have nice spreads of food but limited tables… don’t be tempted to pile up a plate of sushi in the one hand and a big glass wine in the other… Why? Because you won’t have any hands free to shake or take business cards! AND because you’ll have to nuzzle your food off your plate using just your mouth. I know its free but have some dignity!
Best practice would be to eat a huge dinner before you go. Problem solved.
- Body language: NEVER cross your arms, try to maintain good amounts of eye contact, nod at what people say (a good bit of head tilting never goes amiss either.) Don’t forget your feet either… the feet always subconsciously point where we want to go so plant them firmly facing your new friend. When you want to end the conversation, ‘open up’ the chat by placing a leg facing out, this will invite others to join in.
Best practice would be to give them your full attention, don’t be peeking over their shoulder to scout the room! When you want to leave, have a good excuse… my favourite is to suggest going to get food, then they always ‘get lost’ at the buffet.
- Have a pen handy, it’s always useful in case you need to jot down a number or some information. Best practice is to jot down a couple of quick notes about the person you just met on the back of their card so that you know who’s who when you come to write to them in the future!
- Follow up! It’s said that you have a 72 hour window from when you meet a person until they forget about you. So in this time you need to send them a quick follow up email just saying it was nice to meet them and how you’re looking forward to meeting them again etc.
- Target loners… most people go to networking events alone and most of them are just like you.. craving to chat to someone! Find someone on their own (even if they are ‘texting’ on their phone) and talk to them. They will be grateful and will open up to you for noticing them.
Best practice is not to leave them on their own when you want to move on, make sure someone else has joined the conversation first then slip away.
- If you would like to join a group of people, DON’T just jump in.. hover nearby and make eye contact with everyone in the group first, then wait for the group to open by reading their body language.
You CAN join two people who are talking but you need to wait for them to ‘invite’ you in first. If they are facing each other (feet too!) with lots of animated chatter then move along.
- Ask questions! Only talk about yourself if someone asks. People love to chat about themselves, they will purr if you ask them questions. Try to steer clear of the clichés for the opening questions though, be original! (Not ‘So, what do you do?)
+ What brings you here?
+ Do you know many people here?
+ How is the food?
+ Tell them you’re new then they may give you a breakdown of the people in the room and tell you the local weirdos to avoid!
Best practice, don’t try to sell anything or yourself to the other person. You’re only making a connection today, business can come later!
I hope this guide helps you! Networking is nothing to be scared of, everyone is in the same awkward boat.. just some people have been floating around longer!
The only way to get better at networking is to follow this guide and practice, practice and… don’t get drunk off the free alcohol!
Are you ready to start networking?! If so, apply now!