Networking at events is a fantastic way to meet new potential colleagues, clients, partners and suppliers. Not only do you get to meet people and get an understanding of whether you share similar passions or ideas, you can also collaborate with other attendees moving forward if you share some common experiences.
However networking, like most scenarios in Business is something that a lot of attendees need to work at in order to become effective. Most of us just stand nervously near the coffee and pretend that we are answering some important email on our phone to avoid looking awkward.
- Just be you. Be authentic to who you are, don’t put on a persona or pretend to be something you want. You want to build business relationships with people who like you for who you are. You’re more likely to build longer lasting business partnerships with people if they get to know the real you straight away.
- Use their Cards. If someone shares their business card with you and you agree to do something, write it on the back of the card after you walk away. There is nothing worse than getting back to office with a pile of business cards and trying to remember countless conversations and what your follow up actions were with everyone.
- Ask Questions. The only way you will get to know people is if you ask them genuine questions, don’t just hand over a business card or talk about yourself and then walk away, its just bad manners. Build rapport with other attendees as you may find out you have somethings in common once you ask questions about what they do.
- Don’t “work the room.” Try not to look at a room full of people and go “I’ve got to meet everyone” as you won’t invest the time or energy into those you do meet. Short conversations where you grab a card and go won’t be memorable for those you meet, so try and build relationships and rapport.
- Understand “Open” and “Closed” Circles – Body language is important when looking for groups to interact with, if they have created walls around the conversation with their bodies that there is no room to get in, its clear to see they are having a “closed” conversation. It’s best not to try and jump into these conversations, look for groups who have people who have adopted an open body position where there is room to come in and say hello or have left a clear gap and are looking to maintain eye contact with other people in the room.
- It’s not just about who is in the room – Try and remember when meeting people its not just who they are, it’s about understanding the value of making connections. Those new people you may meet may be able to connect you with potential clients that they know or you may know people they want to do business with.
- Don’t fire out cards like Confetti – Try and wait to be offered for someone to ask for your card before offering it, it’s polite and shows you’ve built enough rapport to stay in touch.
- Relax – Everyone in the room is in the same position, especially at events which are focussed on meeting new people such as the innov8-Live series of events we host. Most of the attendees are at networking events because they want to meet new people, most likely everyone in the room is nervous so try to relax and enjoy the evening.
What tips would you share with those going to their first Networking event? Share and comment below and we will Tweet the best responses.