Networking is the secret ingrediant to further your career. It allows you to make connections and build mutually beneficial relationships that will aid your development in your personal and work life.
These simple tips will help you to become a smooth small talker in any situation and allow you to make the most every opportunity and build valuable connections.
If you’re attending an event and will be in an environment to network don’t pressure yourself to meet a lot of people. Manage your expectations and remember it is quality not quantity. It is always best to spend time connecting with one or two great people, than feeling obliged to network with 10 superficial connections.
Break the ice
The most difficult part of networking is starting the conversation with strangers. While you can’t prepare for everything – it’s often worthwhile doing a bit of homework before an event so you have a few great questions you can ask, you may also be able to find out who will be speaking at the event so you can swot up on them.
You could even prepare a few questions/ ice breakers which would generally work with a broad collection of people – focussing on food or travel are good as everybody loves both of these things.
With LinkedIn and Google you may be able to find out who else is attending the event and connect with them beforehand. Most people will feel equally nervous about attending an event so connect with them before hand and so there is less awkwardness on the day.
Set a Time Limit
Don’t force yourself to stay for the entirety of the event. Commit to stay for a specific length of time and work hard when you are there, rather than hanging around for the whole event clock watching. This helps to reduce the pressure, making you feel more comfortable about attending.
People will feel compelled to meet and engage with you if you look interested and eager to mingle. Hovering in the corner on your mobile is going to make you look unsociable and unapproachable. Grab yourself a coffee, position yourself centrally and SMILE – you will be surprised how many people will approach you taking the stress out of hunting them down.
Once you have passed the introduction or ice breaker question, it is now down to the real connecting and networking. Ultimately you want to create memorable connection with someone and boring them with work jargon or professional chit chat will not suffice. Personal stories are what make you more interesting and will ensure people remember you and want to create a relationship.