When you’re talking to someone, maintain eye contact.
Networking is an invaluable opportunity to meet professional contacts and create new business opportunities. It can also be an intimidating prospect if you’re new to it or if you’re not a natural extrovert.
The good news is that everyone else goes to networking events to meet new people, so you won’t stand out. Here are some do’s and don’ts that can help you make the most of your time at a networking event. You may even enjoy yourself in the process!
Introduce yourself to the event organiser
The organiser can supply additional details about the event, such as who is involved, and in general point you in the right direction. They can even introduce you to other attendees to help you get started.
Don’t play a role. You are seeking to build relationships and when your approach is less than honest, sooner or later people will catch on. Instead, be genuine. The people who respond positively to you are the ones with whom you may enjoy a successful professional relationship later on.
Treat new networking opportunities the way you would treat a potential friendship: with respect. Refrain from approaching random people, interrupting their conversation to offer your business card and starting to talk. When you show respect, it’s easier to build lasting working relationships.
Have reasonable expectations
When you’re attending an event, know and understand your goals. Are you wanting to meet certain people? Members of a particular department in the organisation? These expectations are both specific and reasonable.
Show interest in the other person
When you’re talking to someone, maintain eye contact. Nod your head to show that you’re listening. It’s a small gesture that helps to build the trust and rapport needed for a successful future business relationship.
Ask meaningful questions
The ideal way to connect with someone and get to know them is to ask meaningful questions. Encourage the other person to talk: it will make them feel positive about the conversation and make it easier for you to get to know them. The result will be a beneficial connection for both of you.
Scatter your cards at random
Nothing comes across as more insincere than handing out your business card to anyone and everyone without being asked. Unless you have built enough of a rapport with a person for them to ask for your card, refrain from offering one.
Be afraid to join a conversation
In most cases, there’s nothing untoward about joining a conversation and waiting for an opportunity to introduce yourself. It’s generally easy to tell when a conversation is a private one. Use your instinct to gage and if the conversation seems open, feel free to go up and say hello to someone you’ve been wanting to meet.
You don’t have to be a social butterfly to succeed at your next networking event. Be sincere, respectful and interested, and you’ll be on your way to building some meaningful relationships.