Networking Best Practices
(i.e. not hovering awkwardly by the snack table pretending to be on your cell phone)
Starting an intriguing professional conversation online? Piece of cake.
Starting an intriguing conversation with professionals at a networking event? Would rather sit silently in the corner, eating cake.
If this sounds like you don’t worry, you’re not alone in your reluctance to network. Many of even the most confident professionals find it a daunting experience to approach a group of networking pros and say something intelligent, entertaining or witty right off the bat.
Here are 5 networking tips for this year’s NRA Show that will help your conversations run as smooth as a Monday morning shave:
If you know who you want to engage with, do a little private investigation beforehand on LinkedIn, Twitter or an online profile. Discover their interests, accomplishments, work experience; any background info that you could use spark up a conversation to at will arouse their interest. “So, how bout the score on that football game?” or something less cliché.
2. Prepare your pitch
For your introductions, prepare a sentence or two that explains yourself and your company in a concise, engaging manner. This will prevent you from embarrassing yourself with unnecessary waffle. Ensure you have both a formal and informal introduction for different situations, i.e. potential client vs. friendly acquaintance.
Have a couple of questions on standby for a first time approach or a conversation that loses steam. E.g. what has been your favourite session so far? How did you get interested in the X industry? Will you be attending any other conferences this year?
4. Warm up
It’s always a good idea to warm up your networking skills before you engage with the big fish. Target someone flying solo, introduce yourself and spark a conversation. Chances are if they’re alone they will welcome a friendly face.
Networking isn’t like conversing with a stranger in a park and parting ways. At the NRA Show you aim to make valuable connections and speak to them in the future; let them know this. When exiting the conversation leave an open window for future contact, e.g. “I’d love to hear how that project turns out, keep in touch”. Always keep business cards handy to leave your mark.
Now go spread your social wings you conversational wizard, you!