For many professionals, going to networking events can be intimidating. Most people are not comfortable walking into a room of strangers and starting conversations with them, especially when it comes to making potential business partnerships. Below are some tips to help you be more at ease and have a better understanding of how to be successful at your next networking event.
Start a conversation with someone the same as if you were at a social event, asking simple questions to ease into more important topics. Don’t immediately talk about your business and what you do as if it were a sales pitch. If someone does ask what you do, simply explain to them in a casual way. Networking is about personal connection and the more genuine connection you form, the more likely business opportunities are to come about. People are more likely to do business with people who they enjoy being around.
Listen to Others
If you’re joining a conversation, make sure to listen at first, then when you’re ready to talk make a comment to contribute to the conversation that shows you were listening. Many conversations come to an awkward pause when someone new jumps in with a comment about themself or their business.
Find Out How You Can Help
The purpose of networking is to build professional connections. This means you should try to understand what the other person’s goals are and see how you can help. That way, they will be more willing to help you as well if a business partnership makes sense.
Don’t Go in With Strict Goals
It’s important to go in with the purpose of making new professional connections. However, don’t try to hand out or get a certain number of business cards or generating new leads. Make sure to be authentic as that will make it more likely you will find a new connection. The more you try to force things the more uncomfortable it will become.
Remember to Follow Up
People prefer different ways to stay in touch after networking events so make sure you ask people what way works best for them. Follow up with your new connections within a couple of days of the event with a message about what you talked about so they will remember you and can contact you back when something may be relevant.