Do you feel nervous, even anxious at the thought of attending yet another networking function. Some people relish the opportunity to meet and greet a bunch of prospects that they have never met before, while others pale at the thought.
Having a strategy about what to do when you go networking is essential. If you follow this three step process it will surely help
Step 1. – Meeting People for the First Time
The first thing to do is be brave, say hello and greet people warmly. Hold out your hand and be prepared to give a good handshake, not too firm, not too limp. Most importantly…Smile!! No need to rush this part, take your time and repeat the person’s name, so that you remember it.
Next move is to start a conversation. The easy bit is the “What do you do question”, it’s what comes next that a lot of people struggle with.
Here’s some suggestions on where to go next. Ask:
• Tell me about you’re your latest project
• What is the best part about working in that field?
• How did you come to work in that industry?
• How did that idea emerge?
Once you have the conversation rolling, remember to use the other person’s name. Hearing your name is music to your ears, make sure you use theirs and get it right!
Think about the audience who will be attending the function and prepare some questions beforehand, so that you aren’t stuck on the day for something to ask or say.
Step 2. Keep That Conversation Rolling
The best thing you can do to keep a conversation rolling is to be a good listener. Listen with your ears and your eyes, maintain eyes contact, show the other person that you are hanging on their every word. The worst thing you can do whilst someone else is speaking is to be scanning the room to see who else is about that you may want to talk to.
It’s OK to ask clarifying questions and in fact the more questions you ask (within reason) the easier the conversation will flow between you and your new best friend. Remember though not to dominate the conversation and don’t make your questioning appear like the Spanish Inquisition!
Remember to avoid controversial topics and above all respect other people’s opinions. Personally I will never discuss sex, religion or politics in a public forum, it’s too dangerous and can lead to polarising opinion and souring of relationships.
Step 3. Finishing the Conversation
Be careful to move about at a networking function, never stay talking with one person or group for more than 10 minutes. Have a prepared conversation completer and then move on. You could say:
• Lovely to talk with you, I think I will go and freshen up my coffee
• Lovely to talk with you, I see someone I must speak to, please excuse me
• Lovely to spend time with you, this is a networking function, I think I will go and do some more networking
Make the most of your networking opportunities. Avoid hiding in the corner or propping yourself up against the bar or food table. Move around, be brave and use the three-step process.