Depending on your personality type, networking events can either be extremely fun and productive or downright scary and nerve racking. The good news is, it's extremely common to feel intimidated or uneasy in large groups of strangers.
To avoid your next networking event feeling like you've been transported back to your first high school dance (yes, we remember the horror!), follow these five strategies to make the most it.
1. Be Yourself
Yes, your Mum's infamous words are echoing in your ears by now. But really, this one is true. At their core, networking events are meant to be a starting off point for relationship building. Being yourself from the get-go will give the other person an honest indication of who you are and what your company represents. Remember, people respond most to those who are genuine and authentic. Treating people like they are your friends is the best way to build rapport, trust and ultimately, new business opportunities.
2. Find the Bar
You don't have to be a drinker to follow this one. Positioning yourself by the bar, is a great strategy as you will naturally see tons of traffic coming and going throughout the evening. Most people tend to head to the bar after they enter and it's great place to make an introduction while people are waiting for their drinks.
3. Introduce Yourself to the Organiser or Sponsor
This is a great way to learn more about their organisation or project and usually, they can help point you in the right direction of who you should be speaking to, based on your requirements for the event.
4. Ask Questions
This is truly the only way to get to know someone. Be sure to ask educated and thoughtful questions. The best way to walk away from a conversation is to have allowed the other person to speak openly and freely about their business. Not only will they feel great that you took an interest, but you’ll have gotten to know a lot about their business.
5. Take Notes
Once you’ve had a successful conversation and you get the other person’s business card, write down a few brief notes after you’ve walked away. This will help you to recall the specifics of your conversation and will allow you to be more personalised in your follow-up the next day.
Alright, now you’re completely prepared to rock your next networking event and hopefully build some meaningful relationships in the process. And remember; everyone comes to a networking event as a stranger, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to make the most of it!