In my last post, I shared with you steps you can take to prepare for a networking event and that you should practice so that you will have an easier time when you get to the event. Tips on what to do when you are there and after are below.
While you are there, step out of your comfort zone and build relationships with people who will benefit from knowing you. You have prepared and practiced, and now it’s show time
- Arrive early before the bulk of the crowd arrives. You will feel less intimidated with only a few people in the room.
- Bring a trusted friend/colleague to introduce you to others, provide emotional support, and tips for success.
- Look around the room for someone who looks like you feel. Engaging in conversation with this person is a low risk way to start the event.
- No matter how many people are at the event, you don’t have to connect with all of them. You have set a goal. Once you have reached your goal you can either continue or stop the choice is yours.
- It’s a good idea to take a break from networking to restore your energy. Every venue will have a restroom where you can retreat to. Find a quiet corner to check your email/voice mail or reread your notes and goals. With a boost of energy, you can continue to work the room.
- Fake it until you make it. Walking around the room with a smile, firm handshake and welcoming body language no one will see the terror that is raging throughout your body.
- Once you have engaged someone in conversation, you can take on the role of listener. Allow them to do what most people enjoy-talking about them while it takes the pressure from you to keep the conversation going.
- Know when and how to end the conversation. There is something to be said about less is more. Instead of getting to the point where you start rambling or fumbling for more conversation, thank them for taking the time to talk with you; acknowledge they must have many people they want to see; you appreciate their time; and you would like to continue the conversation at a mutually convenient time.
- Ask for a business card or contact information so that you can follow-up.
After the event you are finished the hard part, but there is still some work to do. But you will be more comfortable connecting one-on-one and have had time to relax and recharge.
- Look at your goals and see if you accomplished them. If the answer is yes, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. If not, don’t beat yourself up It isn’t about the quantity of your network it is the quality. You stepped out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.
- Follow up in the way you said you would. You worked hard to get the contact, don’t lose it by not following up. Networking is about building a relationship not just collecting connections. It will serve you later down the road.
You have something to offer everyone you talk to, and they want to meet you. These tips are meant to help you in doing what is uncomfortable for you. Don’t hide in a quiet corner, got out there– mix and mingle your way to success.