While undoubtedly a useful platform for building contacts and uncovering future career opportunities, at worst networking events can bring back uncomfortable memories of the first day of school or college.
If you find yourself dreading official networking events, assessment centres, team building events or even just after work drinks, the good news is that there are steps you can follow that can go a long way to reducing the stress of the occasion.
1. Know your audience
Doing some homework on the people you are likely to meet can help you find common ground and know which topics might help generate conversation. Do you share a particular hobby or have you both worked overseas?
2. Be interested
Showing interest in the people you talk to will naturally get the conversation flowing and create a positive vibe. Asking questions can be an easier option for the less socially confident too as generally people love to talk about themselves meaning the conversation takes care of itself. Preparing a list of questions can be helpful in case you have a tendency to go blank, but make sure they don’t sound overly rehearsed.
3. Give others your full attention
If you really want to connect with people and ask pertinent questions you need to actively listen to them. That means maintaining eye contact rather than looking around the room or over their shoulder, responding appropriately and making sure your phone is on silent.
4. Watch your group etiquette
Mingling between groups is expected at networking events, just so long as you enter and exit with care. When joining a group, wait for a break in conversation before taking your chance to speak. It’s also polite to make the rest of the group aware that your are leaving, rather than slinking off unannounced.
5. Check your body language
If you are nervous in a social setting you may want to practice your body language in the mirror. Keeping your arms unfolded and maintaining an upright posture can prevent your coming across as defensive or even aloof.
6. Dress for finesse
Paying close attention to the way you look can provide the finishing touches to the professional impression you are trying to create. Try to find out if there is a dress code and if there isn’t one sticking with professional attire will be your best bet.
If your event has gone smoothly, it’s standard practice to follow up new introductions with a quick email or message on LinkedIn. Do it before the dust settles and you’ll have a handy stepping stone for your next sales pitch or job enquiry.
Source: HN Global