So, this week I made myself rock up to one of those cringe-inducing professional networking events. It made me think; “why do I hate them so much?”…
You know how it goes. Everyone studious studying their phones, checking for emails and urgent stuff they need to get done right there, right now….
Yep. Guilty. Except in reality I was messaging the husband about how much I hated being there and was there an escape hatch? And my mate, who was late with slightly panicked “WTF are you?” texts.
It got me thinking though, what on earth was the point of me giving up precious (billable) time and then not making the absolute most of it? So, I had a chat with a world expert networking mate of mine and together we worked up some great tips for those dreaded events. Here we go…
Don’t think of networking as selling yourself. Just be normal. Be yourself. (Ahem, perhaps with a slight edit button if your normal self involves swigging all the wine and loudly telling that story to your raptured audience). Do be authentic and don’t try to be someone you’re not.
Do ask for the person’s card, with a promise to catch up over coffee sometime for a more meaningful chat about an area of common interest. Make a quick note on the card for some context, so you don’t forget who they are afterwards.
Be generous – do introduce those you know to others, it can lead to interesting conversations and opportunities to collaborate.
Do listen and ask questions – if you watch the world’s most charismatic people, from actors to political giants, they all have one thing in common; they listen more than they talk, and show great interest in the person that they’re in conversation with. So if you’re feeling nervous, take a breather and remember it’s not all about you, so stop trying so hard and just listen to the other person and show that you are, by asking them great questions.
There you go. Piece of cake. Go forth and grow your network. Great things can happen.