In part 1 we talked through how to prepare before attending a networking event, discussing; research, business etiquette and self-organisation. We’re now going to cover tips to consider during the event and how to beckon your better-self in these situations.
At these business affairs, the primary goal is to leave a good and lasting impression with your newfound acquaintances. How do you make yourself memorable? Firstly, try to make people feel special – be attentive and listen. Even if you don’t care for the particular subject in discussion, taking the time to listen and ask relevant questions will really help with building a relationship.
Be genuine. Don’t try to sound or act like somebody you’re not because people will be able to tell. And of course; remember to smile. Bear in mind though, grinning throughout may lead people to think you’re a fruit-cake (or psychotic, depending on the conversation) – especially if you’re discussing negative news. If the conversation isn’t flowing as it should, ask open-ended questions and just relax, be yourself, and listen.
Remember names. It’s harder than it sounds when you’re challenged with a room full of 40 or so new faces. Try this two-step trick; when you meet someone for the first time, try to imagine an image of what you associate their name with. As an example let’s look at Melanie. You might picture her head as a watermelon. It could be anything, go wild – nobody else has to know…
On completion of the first step, the second step is to repeat their name whilst thinking of the chosen image. It may be as simple as a ‘Hi Melanie, it’s nice to meet you’ or ‘So Melanie, what do you do in your organisation?’ Repeating their name so early on in the encounter might sound weird to you but it won’t sound weird to Melanie. And although this takes some practice, it’s a very effective method of remembering names and, a little bit of fun!
Let’s talk business cards. Unfortunately, no-one cares about your name and number on a card as much as you do. Avoid forcing cards into hands at the start of every meeting or else you may come across as self-important. Give cards to people that you’ve got on well with; people you can help and people that could help you moving forward.
One of the most difficult things to get used to whilst networking is moving from one person to the next. It doesn’t need to be as awkward as it seems. It’s likely that, if you feel the conversation has come to a natural end, so will Melanie. Look her in the eye, smile warmly and simply say; ‘Melanie, it was lovely talking to you’. The bonus here is that, once again, you’ve made her feel special.
There are a plethora of tips I could share but these suggestions are a nice starting point, helping you engage and master the art of business networking. I must mention that, although some established networkers do abide by the unwritten rules of networking, there are countless others that don’t.
The good news is; you can use their actions as an example of exactly what you shouldn’t do. And just think, by taking the time to read this blog and applying these simple tips, you’re already a head above the rest. It was lovely talking to you…