The calendar should be filling up nicely for the year with various meetings, gatherings and functions. In order to get the best out of a networking event you need to be prepared. These events offer the opportunity to make a solid connection with many people that can really make a difference to your career. So instead of just pitching up and hoping that they are going to serve wine and sushi, come for the contacts and build your network!
It’s all in the posture and breathing
Your body language as you enter the room is already getting attention. What is on your mind affects the way you carry yourself. Make sure that you give the right impression by shifting any negative thoughts, issues that you are wrestling with or any other distractions to the back of your mind. Replace negative thoughts by thinking about times when you were brilliant, funny, entertaining, etc.
Breathe – take a deep breath and imagine positive energy filling you when you inhale and all the negative energy leaving on the exhale. This will also help relax those nervous butterflies in the stomach.
Posture – Head back, shoulders and straight, hands relaxed at your side and then smile and enter the room! If you happen to catch someone’s eye as you enter the room – widen the smile and raise the eyebrows a little. Raising the eyebrows is a recognition cue signalling that you know or are familiar with the person. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know this person from a bar of soap – if they respond with a smile, or nod then you can go introduce yourself and at the same time avoiding those awkward first few moments when you feel alone upon entering a crowded room.
Active listening – if you can spend most of the conservation being a good listener then you will leave a lasting impression. Don’t overdo it though otherwise they might feel that they are with their shrink! Ask open ended questions and find common ground. Avoid the “so what do you do?” question as this will most likely come out anyway shortly without the prompting and besides as soon as you are into work topics the conversation style becomes more formal.
Eyes front – When you are networking with someone make sure that you look at them, preferably in the eyes! Resist the temptation to scan the room for familiar faces or allow your focus to be drawn away by background distractions.
Add fuel to the conservation – In finding common ground you have to give of yourself to show that you share similar experiences. Keep the stories short but as positive as the conversation will allow and upon completion ask another open ended question.
Friend/Follow immediately – Smart phones make it easy to link social profiles. Instead of collecting a handful of business cards and wondering afterwards who these people were, become Facebook friends or link through your other social media accounts.
Know when the time is up – You are there to network so don’t get stuck with just one person all night. After the connection has been made be polite and move on, the other person will understand as they are also there to network.
Come prepared and ready to have some fun and you will not only make a great impression but will leave with some strong contacts. Remember to get in touch as soon as possible after the event to cement the contact.
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