Being a great networker allows you create relationships with amazing people and better position yourself with decision makers. Networking events are a great way become aware of exciting opportunities, but it can also be very intimidating. Here are some tips for networking in-person.
Break the Ice
Find out who will be at the event. Create a networking plan of all the people you want to meet. Gather as much information you can about them and start planning ways to break the ice. Whether you talk about food, travel or just ask for advice, make sure it’s a question they can easily answer.
A simple introduction is always the best way to introduce yourself. Sharing your name, where you work, and your background will queue the other person to respond. If you’re feeling a little shy, don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction to someone. Find someone who knows that person who can connect you with them. When you ask someone to introduce you, it’s more impactful versus going up to someone and introducing yourself. The person you’re being introduced to will see you in a different light if a mutual connection is bringing you to them.
Don’t forget your reason for attending a networking event. You want to be able to establish a connection with that person. Listen with the goal of learning something. Ask questions and share personal stories. You want the person to feel that your conversation is genuine and not just a scheme to get something out of them.
End the Conversation
Ending a conversation can be very tricky. It’s great that you’re having a great discussion, but maybe you have to make time to network with the other people attending the event. It’s always a good idea to have a few breakaway statements in your pocket. You may even feel inclined to exchange business cards if there are mutual benefits of your relationship.
If possible, send your new connection and invitation to connect on LinkedIn. This will allow you an easy way to stay-in-touch and give them a nice summary of your experience. Make sure to also follow up with with a timely LinkedIn message or email highlighting parts of your conversation. Express your willingness to stay in touch and to be of help. The sooner you follow-up, the less of chance the person has of forgetting you.
The more you network, the easier it gets. You can practice during your work day while doing small tasks around the office. When you’re passing by the front desk, you can start a brief conversation with the receptionist. You will be a networking pro in no time!