Stranger Danger? Not in Networking!
Why do people hate networking events? There are a few common reasons, but one that I have heard time and time again is an anxiety about introducing yourself to new contacts. I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of nerves as you meet new people and try to strike up a conversation. There are a few small things I think you should include in your introduction with new people that could help take the edge off.
- Don’t forget your name and your business! Because, yes, believe it or not this happens. I was at a networking event a few years ago, and someone came up to me. We spoke for a few minutes about their business and their experience using referral networking before they had to excuse themselves. It was then that I realized that I had never gotten their name, despite the fact that they knew mine. If your goal is to introduce yourself to a new contact and leave a lasting impression, definitely make sure you give your name.
- Find common ground. Finding something about your new contact that you can relate to is among the best ways to quickly develop the start of a relationship. This also will alleviate the pressure of your conversation with someone new, as it’ll spark topics you both can relate to and talk about.
- Be memorable. If you can stand out from the crowd and make yourself unforgettable (in a positive way!), you’re more likely to really develop relationships. This is most effective when done when you are one-on-one with someone, and not in a group. Be sure to read the person, and use a quirk about yourself, your business, etc., that can resonate with the specific person. This one requires a bit of social intelligence, but when done right is highly effective.
- Ask questions about the other person. People love to talk about themselves and their business. Everyone has an easy time talking about things they know well, and what do people know better than themselves? Not only will this allow the other person to take the lead on the conversation in a positive way, it helps you learn about the other person. The caveat here is to make sure you are asking genuine questions. Asking nonsense questions just to keep asking questions is transparent, and will negatively impact how you are perceived.
How do you handle meeting someone new at networking events? Let me know in the comments below!