Networking events are an important aspect for many business professionals. Not everyone loves them, myself included, but if you have a plan for the event and use these 5 tips, you can make the most of the valuable business connections you make.
- Have a Plan
Before you attend the event decide what you to achieve. Do you want to exchange business cards, look for a job, get an introduction or just socialize? You want to be able to gauge how successful you were after the event, so have a plan going in. Did you accomplish your goal? If so, congratulations!
- Prepare a Few Conversation Starters
“Hi I’m Andrea, I work at The DAVIS Companies. What do you do?” UGH! You can do better than that.
Networking is about getting to know another person. Yes, your job is important, but connecting with others about more personal and humanizing aspects of their lives will lead to a more interesting conversation. “Where do you live?” “Did you read the latest business best seller?” “Any trips planned?” “Excited for the Super Bowl?” All will open up the conversation and you can cover where you work and what you do later.
- Think About How You Can Help Others
People attend networking events for a reason – to meet someone, to sell their product, to develop new relationships, etc. In addition to meeting people, think about how you can be a resource for them. Connecting people together and making introductions will cause you to stand out from many of the other people you meet. And when you help someone, they want to return the favor and help you, too.
- Be Engaged
Taking the time to really listen to others is a skill. Some people generally listen, but may be looking around for their next conversation. Remembering names, making eye contact and nodding your head will let the person you’re talking to know you are listening to, and focused on them. Actively listening and engaging will help you build a foundation for trust.
- Remember to Smile – Really!
Seeing someone smiling makes you want to smile in return. The smile is “the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content,” concludes scientist Andrew Newberg. Smile and make those around you feel happier.
Try these tips at your next networking event and share your feedback with us.