How to get the most out of networking events
Why do some people get lots of helpful contacts, advice and interesting proposals at events while others leave empty-handed? It’s all about knowing networking laws. Here are the most important ones that will help you be in the spotlight at any event and get the most out of it:
Many people prefer straightforward introductions: “Hello, what is your name? Let’s exchange our business cards!” It’s a bad way to start communicating. It displays you as a quantity-driven, not a quality-driven person.
Better take cue from the situation. Sometimes you need to make a small favor to a person – hold a door or lift a dropped pencil – to start interaction. It also looks great when the first thing you say to a person is a compliment. Tell him or her you like their tie, cardholder or the rim of an eye-glass, but please be sincere in what you say.
By the way, people always like sincerity. Sometimes a strong partnership or even friendship starts with the words: “Oh, I hate this networking stuff. May I just stand beside you?”
Sometimes you need to make a small favor to a person – hold a door or lift a dropped pencil – to start interaction.
A great way to start a conversation is to ask an open question. That means a question that doesn’t imply a monosyllabic “yes” or “no”. For example, instead of “Do you like the event?” you can ask: “How do you like this event?”
Use such question words as “what”, “why”, “what for”, “which” etc. For example, when you ask “What’s your profession?” or “What kind of business are you in?”, you open the dialog and let the person tell more about him or herself.
Have a ready short self-presentation – you will definitely be asked about your profession at the event. Practice your speech at home, you may even ask your family for constructive feedback. The main rule of self-presentation: be enthusiastic about it! The point is not to boast your achievements but to show that you like what you do.
For example, if you are a life coach, don’t limit yourself to “I am in personal growth training”. Better say that you improve the quality of people’s lives, help them reach their goals and make them happy. People full of energy and enthusiasm are always pleasant to communicate with.
Non-verbal communication is also very important for establishing contact. For example, if you look sideways and not at the person you talk to, it is not hard to guess that you are bored and your thoughts are somewhere far away. It is entirely unacceptable to check your email in your smartphone or answer texts while you are in the middle of a conversation.
If you have come to a networking event, leave your telephone behind. It’s a shame to see people that keep hold on it while communicating.
Actually, if you have come to a networking event, switch off your phone and put it as far as possible. It’s a shame to see people that keep hold on it while communicating. That means that any phone call will become their # 1 priority and make them forget about the person they are currently talking to. In that case it is hard to believe that you are truly interested in the person in front of you.
“I am listening!”
Perhaps this is the most important and most difficult networking rule: you should listen to your conversation partner and demonstrate sincere interest in his or her words. Don’t get carried away with your personal stories, ask questions, nod, smile and keep eye contact.
Of course, you are not immune to excessive use of your attention. Seeing a sympathetic listener in you, your conversation partner can start telling you long stories about his or her life or obtrusively selling you their business consulting services. In that case you should know how to leave right. Your objective is not to spend a whole hour with one person but to meet at least 10-15 people.
Learn how to control conversations and end them in timely manner. Exchanging your business cards is a perfect moment to leave. You may follow it with: “It was a pleasure talking to you. Let’s keep contact. I hope I can be of value to you in the future”.
The main networking principle says: “Don’t expect services from others, be of service to them”. At any event introduce people to each other, ask them: “How can I help you?” Being interested in people, being useful for them automatically makes you a people magnet.
Remember that your main trump card in communication is sincerity and naturalness. Smile and enjoy new encounters. And you will surely fill your life only with good communication partners that you will establish great relationship with.