You’ve heard it over and over again: networking events are all about making connections. But are you one of those who stow out in a corner, sipping on a drink (even though that helps some of the time)?
If you think you’re the shyest individual on earth, take a deep breath and brace yourself, as this article is all about cracking that shell and starting a conversation in a networking event.
According to Mike Tyrrell, a specialist, and co-founder of Exceptional Information, fear is what holds people back in social circumstances.
Gear up for the upcoming networking season as we list five simple tips that will help you get started in a networking event:
- LOOK’S MATTER
- START WITH SMALL TALK
- WEAR A SMILE
- SHARE YOUR STORY
- PERFECT YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Let’s start with looks. The crisp you look the better it is. Research says well-dressed people are approached more often as compared to someone who is dressed shabbily.
Most of us concentrate on what to say or do but forget to set up our wardrobes for the big day. Decide on what to wear in advance. Clothes that make you not only look good but also feel good will give you that confidence boost to start networking.
It is human nature to automatically start assessing anyone who walks into the room. They say — clothes don’t make a man, but they also say the first impression is the last. Ensure to nail the first impression.
The Hack: Wear something that makes you feel good. It could be a piece of jewellery, your favourite shirt or a lucky item you like to keep in your pocket.
Have you noticed you can chat up a storm with almost anybody, about your profession but you become blank when it comes to talking about yourself? The question is how many of them know about your work?
Try starting with common topics like weather, economy, your surroundings or even music etc. Try to be simple and concise. Ensure you don’t get pulled into political debates and controversies.
Once the conversation gets flowing try finding a common point of interest. This will not only help you ease around your audience but will help you have topics that will both interest you to speak about.
The Hack: Weather and Sports can never go wrong. Read the weather forecast and news updates before you enter an event.
A smile can solve problems. As true as this is, it also helps you come across as approachable. What’s your reaction when you see someone that is angry or doesn’t look happy approaching you? You step away!
Researcher Claire Conway, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland deciphered we get attracted to people who smile and look at us directly. Conway reported that people are 86 percent more likely to strike up conversations with strangers in the street if they are smiling.
The Hack: Humans can detect smiles from more than 300 feet away! You are sure to get noticed if you wear a bright genuine smile.
Everyone has a story that’s dearest to them. As individuals, we are tuned to be inclined towards people who show interest in our story.
When you share stories, you’ll find it can lead to a plethora of open-ended questions that can further lead into a conversation quite easily.
Try asking open-ended questions, they showcase your inquisitiveness and it also allows you to make deeper connections quickly.
The Hack: Ask about their story. People love talking about themselves! This takes the pressure off you to keep finding questions to ask.
Body language speaks more than words. As you approach a participant, look into their eyes, smile, and gently nod at them. This approach automatically puts the other person at ease. In professional meets, handshakes are regarded as a formal greeting and it is an art that everyone should master as it speaks volumes.
Greet everyone with a confident handshake and try remembering their name. In case of a complicated name try to spell it or ask them the pronunciation, or the meaning. In many cases, this acts as an icebreaker. Do not automatically hand over your business card, this can make you look desperate. People won’t remember you unless you take the time to begin a relationship.
The Hack: try to use their name at least twice in a conversation. This helps people feel important and engaged.
Networking boils down to building meaningful relations and that starts only when you can get out there and talk! Initially, this might be intimidating, but gradually one can master the art. It’s a fantastic way to market yourself. These events can be fun and allow you to introduce some new people into your life.
Your network is your net worth.