Some love it, some hate it, but networking is almost invariably an integral part of our working lives. As such, it is definitely worth honing your skills. For some, it comes naturally to enter a room, start conversations, take away exactly what is needed and leave the event far better connected. For others, the prospect of walking into a room full of strangers has them in a cold sweat. So, how can you make the networking experience less of an ordeal and more like the useful event it’s supposed to be? Our team here at CA have some advice on how to do just that.
Get there early
If walking into a room full of people has you wide-eyed then get to the venue early. This way, you beat the crowds and can ease into things rather than jumping in at the deep end. Getting there early will mean fewer people and will make it less daunting to start conversations.
Have a great business card
There’s something about handing over a business card that makes you feel a certain amount of pride. With this pride comes confidence, so make sure you have a business card you’re be happy to show off. It’s a simple way to boost your level of comfort at a networking event so make sure you go prepared. Just remember to always ask for a business card back or you might risk putting a nose or two out of joint!
Understand everyone is there TO talk to people
Going in with the right mindset is crucial. Remember that everyone is there for the same reason. Everyone is going to be receptive to random people coming up and starting conversations, so don’t be worried that anyone will avoid talking to you. They will not. You certainly won’t be the only networking-hater in the room either.
Start conversations with questions
People like it when someone is interested in them and this is almost always the best way to start a conversation at any networking event. Introduce yourself with a warm greeting and a smile and then ask the other person about themselves – their name, their company, what their company does, their job, how long they’ve worked there, the list goes on. After a little while, the conversation will develop and you’ll be asked questions about yourself and voila! You are networking!
This is one of the easier parts of networking as you don’t have to do it in person, yet it is one of the most crucial. Whether it’s an email, a WhatsApp message, or a phone call – follow up on everyone you met and do it within 48 hours. If you’re the forgetful type, then write quick notes immediately after the event so you can remember who was who.
Networking events can be daunting but the more you go to, the easier they become. So next time one becomes available, go for it, make the most of it and you’ll soon realise they’re an incredibly useful experience.