Some things NEVER change!
Networking events are still the #1 way to connect with colleagues, clients, potential new customers, and strategic alliances.
While social media has its place, face-to-face networking is till king! Hell, the best social media strategist, and coaches even attend“in-person” networking events. Why? Because they work! There is no better way to grow a network than to actually network!
In-person networking events include:
- Networking luncheons and Meetups
- Happy Hours
Face-to-face networking gives people the opportunity to have a non-choppy text like banter, and have instead, a more meaningful, flowing conversation; complete with eye contact, and body language—which, by the way, is responsible for 55% of our communication.
The problem is: many entrepreneurs and business professionals struggle with shyness. They feel uncomfortable in a room full of strangers, and don’t know exactly how to approach people, and start that scary conversation.
Here are 5 steps to get you comfortably and confidently on your way . . .
1. A handshake, a smile, and a hello. it’s simple. I know. And still thebest way to make a connection, and start a conversation.
A smile warms the heart, and tells people that you are friendly, and approachable. A firm handshake says you are confident and capable. A simple hello starts the conversation.
2. The name game.
Our names are important, and most of us like it when people use them. At most networking events people wear name tags. This makes the “name game” easy. Look at your contacts name, pause for a moment and anchor it in your brain. Then use it when you introduce yourself.
In the comedy movie, House Bunny, lead actress Anna Faris anchored names by saying them out loud in a devilish voice. While that may be inappropriate at a networking event you can do something similar, in your mind. Add a little comedy or playfulness, and you not only add weight to the process, but, will probably enjoy it more, too.
3. Eye contact and an introduction.
After you have connected, look the individual in the eyes, (Not with a stare. I personally can be intense, and it knocks some folks back a bit.) and introduce yourself. Assuming their name is visible on a name-tag an introduction could look something like this: “Hello, Connie. My name is Cyndee Paulson-Heer, founder of The Enchanted Woman. I help Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs take the lead, and build thriving businesses. What do you do?”
4. Show Interest.
Chances are you’ve heard the saying, “People don’t care until they see how much you care.” After you have asked them what they do, be interested enough to listen to their response. Show you care by having a real conversation. One of my favorite “post introduction,”follow-up questions is: what do you love most about what you do? You can also ask an acquaintance how they got into their business. Both these questions will take you far in having a real conversation.
Note: Networking events are about meeting people, and building relationships. They are not about collecting cards, and making sales pitches.
5. Close and move on.
Here’s where networking intentions and goals come into play. If you have set a goal to meet 3 new people then you have to manage your time accordingly and move through the steps to fulfill that goal. If you didn’t“feel” the connection thank the individual for her time, and close with a“niceity, “ something like, “It was nice meeting you. I hope to see you again.”If the connection is good, schedule a 1-to-1 to follow-up, and get better acquainted.
So there you have it: how to start those intimidating networkingconversations in 5-Easy Steps! Now get out there and grow your network, already!