Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
You’ve arrived at an event that you believe will help you professionally – perhaps a meeting of a business organization or community group where you hope to see people you know and meet new contacts. You are investing your time, perhaps money too, to be there. So how can you make the most of this opportunity, and hopefully have an enjoyable time as well? There are a few tips to keep in mind.
DO’S: To be a star at your next networking event…
- Have a “goal” in mind for the event. Why are you there? What do you want to gain from the event (meeting people, gaining information, being seen)?
- Be inclusive to others even if you are in a group. You never know who you’ll meet and who might know the person standing beside you.
- Make introductions liberally. It reflects well on you as a connector of people, and you’ll find others returning the favor.
- Be conscious of having a pleasant, welcoming manner. Resolve to put away your frustrations from the last meeting you had, or the chaos at home for the duration of the event.
- Have your promotional “script” in mind (also known as the elevator speech) when someone asks what you do. Be prepared to give a clear and brief summary that opens the door to further discussion.
DON’TS: You may blow networking opportunities if you…
- Shrink into a corner if you don’t see immediately see someone you know. Even though it may be a bit uncomfortable, position yourself to see and be seen.
- Scan the room like a shark when you should be paying attention to the person you’re talking with. There’s nothing more annoying and, through this behavior, you are showing disrespect.
- Stick like glue to the one person you know. You won’t meet anyone new that way and a networking event isn’t the best time to go in-depth on a personal conversation.
- Hesitate to approach the speaker or someone else you want to meet, even if they don’t know you. Just summon your courage and introduce yourself with a conversation starter like – “I was very interested in your presentation because…”
- Take cell phone calls in the middle of a conversation. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s a real distraction.
I’ve seen many women panic at the prospect of walking into a room of “strangers” at a networking event. While there’s no doubt it can be a bit daunting – remember, we’ve all been there. The benefits are many and if you want to get ahead, it is truly part of your job. Like many things in life, after you have a few successes, you’ll feel more confident and will soon be networking like a pro.
What do you think? Please share!