It’s the day of your networking “extravaganza” (it’s almost time for action!) and you’re getting into the networking mindset.
Remember the purpose of networking is to make new connections and a new friend or two. Looking at it this way will allow you to have fun with it instead of approaching it as the “grueling thing you have to do to grow your business”.
Taking the time to prepare ahead for the networking event will set you up for success. Preparing will not only help you with conversation topics, it will also help you make a great first impression on those you meet.
So, let’s talk about what to do during the event to make it a great investment of your time.
This covers several areas:
- Participating in discussions
- Your language
- Alcohol consumption
- Body language
- Turn your phone off
- Eat before
When participating in discussions, if you don’t have anything of value to add to the conversation, it’s OK not to say anything.
At the very least you’ll leave a neutral impression, which is much better than a bad one.
Language & “Iffy” Topics
It’s said never to discuss politics or religion in social settings and as good measure, watch the words you use. If others are using language that could be considered offensive, don’t let your guard down and join in.
Limit your alcohol consumption to one. Yes, you’re probably thinking, “Just one!”
You are at the event for networking, not drinking. If you want to carry a beverage, try a soda. You can celebrate your new connections at home with your favorite “adult” beverage. 😉
Be aware of your body language. Before you leave the house, try different standing positions in front of the mirror (while you’re at it pull up a chair and try different sitting positions too).
Get an idea of what you look like to others.
- Are you approachable?
- Do you come across as confident?
Standing up straight can also do a lot for your posture.
Most likely you’ll have your phone with you. If you don’t want to turn off your phone, at least mute the ringer. It’s impolite to have your phone go off in the middle of a conversation and you just might be speaking with a key individual.
Even if there will be hors d’oeuvres at the event, get something to eat beforehand (at least a snack). You’ll find it easier to engage people when you are not starving. 😉
These things might seem silly, but they payoff and you’ll come across as having charisma and confidence.
Ask Questions – Be Conversational
Part of preparing for a networking event is to have a Target List of people you want to meet or get to know better.
So, you should be prepared with discussion topics. Just remember to keep the discussion conversational – you’re not playing 20 Questions.
It’s also handy to have a few general Q’s ready. Even something as simple as asking, “What do you do?” or “What brought you to this event?”
This leads to the next tip…
Listen More than You Talk
There’s a saying, “You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion.” (author unknown)
Once you ask one of your open-ended questions, really listen to what the other person has to say.
People love to talk and you’ll be amazed at how much information you can collect from one well-crafted question. You’ll even be able to dive deeper into the conversation by asking follow-up questions to the information they’re sharing.
Which leads to offering…
Your Undivided Attention & Enthusiasm
When you’re in a conversation with someone, give that person your full attention. Be mindful to not look over their shoulder to search out others. People are very aware of this behavior and it’s rude.
Be engaged in the conversation. Showing enthusiasm for what’s being said is a sure-fire way to build rapport and your network.
Ways to convey your undivided attention:
- Appropriate eye contact.
- Ask clarifying questions.
- Summarizing what was said.
Now that you’ve had this great discussion…
Make mental notes of conversations and discretely jot them down on the back of the individual’s business card.
If you are discussing something that you will need to follow up with, then it’s OK to make a note in front of the person on the back of their card.
Taking notes on topics discussed with each individual will help you follow up in later conversations.
Taking the time to prepare beforehand and following these tips during the event will help you connect with key individuals.
You’ll soon find that you’re enjoying the process and building your network by leaps and bounds.
Networking helps your business because you exist to more people and that’s how to cultivate clients and referrals.