I attended a local networking event yesterday, this was my 4th time at the same event.
The first time i went, I didn’t have a clue, i was like a rabbit in headlights, not knowing what to do, what to say, who to speak to - so i did what i normally did, i stood in a corner, completely undersold myself and spoke to only people (generally women) who smiled at me first or approached me first.
I did pick up some key tips over time, things like:
*Say your name twice, a bit like “Bond, James Bond” - so people remember it.
*Practice your opening line - “Hi I’m Jo and I work in x, y, z or I’m interested in a,b,c - but make it interesting, you dont want people to have a glazed look straight away.
My top 3 recommendations for getting the most out of networking are:
1. Be curious.
2. Actively listen.
3. Ask open questions.
If you dont do these 3 things, your conversations will soon take a nose dive and the other person will just think you are rude. As an introvert, you will find this draining, as it takes a lot of mental energy but it’s worth it, just go home afterwards and lie down in a quiet room for 20 minutes, you will soon recharge and be ready to take on the world again.
Also dont judge - you know the old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover? Definitely dont do this, had people judged me based on my demeanour when i first attended, i dont think anyone would have spoken to me - I’m thankful that people reached out to me and recognised it was my first time.
The other hurdle i had to overcome was how to move from person to person, you dont want to spend the whole time speaking to one person otherwise you are missing out, so the key here is to recognise when a lull in the conversation is coming, your options then are:
1. Suggest you both go and join another group of people.
2. Say you need the loo, when you come back the person you were talking to will have found someone else, leaving you free to do the same.
3. Say you need a drink (coffee, tea or water - you dont want to get pissed here) as with number 2, you will find someone else to speak to on your return.
4. Eye ball another person and smile broadly, this will encourage that person to come over and introduce themselves, making your twosome a threesome. (Keep your mind clean please its not that kind of post)
Finally, just enjoy it and keep going, step outside of your comfort zone, you never know where it will lead you or what you will discover.
Have a great day everyone!