Five Networking Tips
Networking can be intimidating. Here are five simple ideas to keep in mind when walking into a room full of people that you may not know.
Name Tags Are Your Friend
When you meet someone, use their name at least once. It will help you remember it and it makes them feel good. I’m not the only one who thinks this. The Power of Using Someone’s Name is a great read by The Naive Idealist. He wisely points out that “when we say a person’s name we are telling those who listen how important they are to us.”
It is natural to gravitate towards the people that we already know, but this is supposed to be networking! Challenge yourself to talk to one or two new people that you either haven’t met before or don’t know very well. If there isn’t someone standing alone, it is okay to walk up to a group and introduce yourself. Just wait for a natural break in the conversation and say hello. You might be surprised at how quickly you are welcomed into the the conversation.
As Ursula once said, “don’t underestimate the importance of body language!” Be open and approachable. Stand with confidence, with your arms uncrossed, and smile. Smiles are magical.
Practice Your Delivery
Practice your elevator speech so that when you are put on the spot, you can speak with confidence. It isn’t just what you say, but also how you say it. In his blog 3 Keys to Introducing Yourself to a Group, David J.P. Fisher tells us that the time we spend working on our delivery is far more important than the actual words we choose. I would have to agree. Not sure what an elevator speech is or how to write one? Check out Elevator Speech Examples and Writing Tips by Alison Doyle.
Perhaps the most important part of networking is following up and yet it is the one thing most often forgotten. Right after the event, take out the little pile of business cards that you collected and make notes. This is a great way to help you remember important details from your conversation. Then, make sure that you follow up within 24 hours. An email, a handwritten card, a phone call, or even a text message will work. Darrah Brustein suggests creating “reconnect files”. Intrigued? Check out his blog post, How To Master The Art Of Networking Follow-Up.