How is it that some people seem to ‘shine’ at an event, almost as if they’re controlling it – when many of us actually loathe the idea of networking. Being able to dominate in the right way is a useful skill to master, especially where you have limited time and a lot of people to meet…
1. Arrive early
Most people dislike the thought of networking, even though they usually enjoy the event itself. They tend to conjure up thoughts of going into a crowded room, not knowing anybody, and being left on your own…
Minimise the intimidation aspect of networking simply by arriving early. By the time a networking event has been in full swing for an hour or so, it will look to outsiders as if everybody knows everybody else. Arriving early gives you a good chance to talk to most people there before the event gets busy, and gives you chance to relax.
2. Make the first move
Don’t hang around, hoping somebody will notice you. Take your glass from the bar, and approach other people who are on their own, or in small groups. Everybody is there to network, so you automatically have something in common! It’s not like trying to pick somebody up in a bar, so you don’t risk ‘rejection’ unless you really start a conversation with something foolish.
Since networking is all about relationship building, the focus is on asking questions, rather than trying to sell yourself. People remember somebody who makes them feel good – so show genuine interest in the group by asking follow up questions, and shrewd observation. Once people have spoken about themselves, you will have the floor to yourself, and the eyes and ears of the group will all be on you.
3. Remember your elevator pitch
Explaining who you are, what you do and even why you are there in 30 seconds or so, of concise, measured words will make people listen. Prepare several elevator pitches in advance, so you know which one to adapt to your particular audience – after all, you’re now in control.
Try to tease them into asking follow up questions, by appearing modest: “I’m working with a couple of really exciting charities at the moment…” begs the questions “who?” and “on what?”
4. Be generous
Remember to be generous, and invite other people into the conversation. Look for people who are on their own, or hanging around on the periphery of the group. Be aware of those who might be a little shyer than the rest of the group, and ask them questions to bring them out. Remember not to play ‘favourites’ in the group, and direct open questions to the entire group. It is easier to dominate the group by asking questions, because they’ll reciprocate and once more, all eyes will be on you.
5. Be the first to follow up
If you’ve met useful or interesting people, why wait until three days later to follow up? Striking whilst the iron is still hot gives you the upper hand. An email suggesting coffee works a treat at 9am the morning after, when caffeine is definitely on the agenda…!
At the I Am Group, we try to convince you that networking isn’t a nightmare – so come and join our friendly ‘I Am Networking’ or ‘I Am Learning’ events. Visit https://theiamgroup.eventbrite.co.uk/ for more details.