Networking and ‘schmoozing’ isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. So, if the very prospect fills you with dread, you’re far from alone. Whilst some people can work a room with effortless aplomb, positively feeding off the experience, for others it feels forced, inauthentic and, frankly, cringe worthy. Sounding familiar? Then, welcome to the club, but rest assured, help is at hand! Here’s some simple tips to get you started…
1. Share your information
Bring your business cards with you and if you don’t have business cards then invest in some sharpish! Make sure you have all your contact details on there along with your social handles and logo. But don’t over crowd it. Speak to a designer if you are unsure.
2. Set yourself a target
If you are new to networking, set yourself a small target of finding five new contact. If you’re a professional networking, depending on the size of the group you should try and speak to around 80% of the group and build rapport with other regular networkers.
3. Ask the first question
Trust me, you will feel more confident if you initiate the conversation. It may seem like the scariest thing in the world but just remember, everyone has attended to talk to people they don’t know.
4. Make friends with the organisers
They will know the majority of the room and who might be useful for your line of business. So, go speak to them and ask them to introduce you or recommend a few people to go talk to.
5. We’re in it together
Remember we are all in the same boat. We may have different goals or agendas but at the end of the day we want to widen and strengthen our networks. So, enjoy the event and if it didn’t work for you try a different one. There’s many different types of networking.
Ask for peoples business cards and try to remember one interesting fact about that person. If it helps, write it on their business card after the event and at the next one flick through your business cards to remind you.
7. Be social
After networking head to twitter and make contact with the people you met. Say ‘hello’ and also tag the event for more reach and so those people who didn’t get chance to talk to you can connect over twitter.
8. Second chances
Networking events ebb and flow. Sometimes, they can be very productive and fruitful other times they never really get going. Always go a couple of times before ruling out that network event. Even pop back in three or six months to see if its expanded or changes.