Does the idea of networking conjure up feelings of anxiety, nervousness or panic? What do you say? Who do you speak to? Couple this with the pressure of making the right impression or delivering the perfect elevator pitch (when you’d rather be in the comfort of your home) only makes the networking process even more daunting. But networking doesn’t need to be a nerve-wracking experience, with a couple of pointers you’ll be feeling calm, prepared and focused on making the most out of each and every networking opportunity.
1. Familiarize yourself with the speakers and attendees. Have access to the guest list? Perfect! Do your research, Google the speakers and attendees, look on LinkedIn, research their website, get familiar with who will be in attendance. With a bit of research you can pre-plan icebreakers and have fallbacks when you approach them to avoid thinking on your feet and making any awkward conversation blunders.
2. Talk to the other nervous person in the room. Chances are there’s someone just as nervous as you are so if you see anyone standing alone or noticeably nervous, head on over and say hi! There’s nothing more comforting than a big smile and a friendly hello, you’ll instantly put that person at ease and it breaks down that awkward barrier – imagine how grateful you’d be if someone approached you that way!
3. Set an objective for the event. Going to networking events without an objective is like digging for treasure without a treasure map. Make the most out of each and every event by focusing on the outcome you’d like to get once you leave. Whether it be connecting with a particular person or setting a goal of talking to at least five people, walking away with a quick win not only boosts your motivation to attend more events but it’s also an incredibly great distraction from your nerves.
4. Ask the five W’s. When all else fails remember the five W’s; who, what, where, when, why. People naturally find it easy to talk about themselves when asked those simple questions, it puts the focus back on them and gives you a really easy starting point for creating conversation.
5. Focus on what you can do for others. One of the most powerful and genuine ways that you can network is by being a connector; focus on how you can add value to others. Facilitating connections for others without benefitting yourself gives you great business karma and those that you helped will likely return the favour. What strategies do you find help with making the most out of networking events?