We all know the power of networking. It’s how many of us land our first job, find a business partner and broaden our horizons on life.
But for many, networking doesn’t come easy. Walking into a room full of strangers can be daunting whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. Doubt, uncertainty and fear can easily creep in and sabotage your best efforts.
Making the most of any event takes a bit of practice. Malcolm Archer, our Business Development Manager at Wavefront offers up some tips and tricks he’s learned over the years. Use these pointers to lose the awkward and apply them next time you’re working a crowd!
1) Have a goal when going to any event
Examples of goals can be: Make new friends, find Project Managers, find fellow curling enthusiasts, find out what’s happening in a particular industry, identify prospects, etc. By having a goal it gives you a go-to topic of conversation. Don’t be afraid to share your goal, you never know who can make an introduction!
2) Set a time limit
I try and average 5-7 minutes. Chances are the person you are talking to is also there to network and being in a conversation with someone for 20+ minutes does neither of you any favours. According to a Microsoft study, most people’s attention span is around 8-12 seconds. Highly interesting conversations should be noted and followed-up on within 48 hours so you can pick them back up while they’re fresh and in a more dedicated setting.
3) Be genuinely interested in other people
This one is taken straight from Dale Carnegie, and he says it best: “If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other people will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.”
4) Don’t be afraid to end a conversation
If you start feeling like a conversation has run its course, odds are the other person feels it as well. The easiest way to end a conversation is to thank that person for their time and tell them you will follow-up with them. Try not to make an excuse for leaving – this cheapens the interaction. Especially don’t say something like “Oh hey look it’s Mike, I haven’t seen him in forever!” This makes the person whom you are with feel less important. Simply thank them and move on.
5) Have fun!
Humans, in my limited experience, are quite perceptive. If you’re stressed or anxious, it’s easily displayed. Try and relax and enjoy the moment. Talking to people doesn’t come naturally so the more you practice, the more fun and easy it becomes.