After a number of years as a recruiter, I have to remind myself at each networking event or party that it takes time to become good at networking. It’s a skill some people seem to be born with but for the large majority of people it is a never ending learning process that can be even a little scary in the beginning.
• Take and extra few minutes the day of the event to get caught up on current events, headlines, movies or books so you can insert yourself into conversations that might be happening on these topics or stock pile yourself with something to talk about.
• Practice your elevator pitch. One the way to the event practice some questions and answers out loud to yourself. It sounds silly but it gets your mind moving in the right direction.
• Many networks have current members listed online. Sift through them and see if there is anyone you want to meet or learn a little about them ahead of time.
• Get to the event early. It’s easier transition to go into an almost empty room rather then when it’s full of conversation. By doing this you also almost turn into a greeter and get to meet the first group of people one on one.
• Bring a pen with you to quickly jot down information about people on the back of their business cards before you drive home. Be sure to follow up with and email or other introduction.
• For more experienced networkers keep an eye out for shy or new networkers who might be trying to join a conversation. If someone stands next to you in a conversation ask the other person to “hold that thought” for a minute and ask for the new person’s name. Be sure to introduce them to the others you are talking to. It will make them feel more at ease.
Planning might not always make perfect but it might help you be more successful at your next networking event.
Look forward to seeing everyone at an event soon!
(Original Post 7/10)