For some of us, the word “networking” strikes fear into our heart but it doesn’t have to! Networking events can and should be enjoyable for those that want to attend. Before we dive into some good tips to use at networking events, let’s define networking.
What is Networking?
Often times, networking and prospecting are used interchangeably but there are clear differences which is where some of the confusion and fear comes in. Networking is designed to create awareness, expand connections and build relationships. You can view almost as more a marketing effort while prospecting is a sales effort, designed to develop an opportunity, create business and leverage connections.
Networking is Not a Sales Pitch
Often times people focus on selling at networking events rather than building connections and that’s when it gets awkward. We have all had that one guy who pinned us down in the corner and told us everything about every service their company offers, when we just asked was where the restrooms were. The point of a networking event is to help expand connections, not to close a sale. Getting in the right mind set at networking events is half the battle. The following are additional tips to help you succeed at networking events:
- Be inquisitive, seek to learn about others
- Avoid staying in groups with just your co-workers, go out and meet new people
- Food and drinks are your friend! – If you are uncomfortable, take advantage of the refreshments at the event by talking to the person next to you in line or setting your food down at a table to join a conversation.
- It’s not a competition, you don’t have to meet everyone in the room
- Bring your business cards
If you find it hard to strike up a conversation, here are some great starters and questions to get you going:
- Give a compliment.
- “So what do you do?”
- “How is your day going?”
- “Mind if I join you?”
- “Where do you work?”
- “Are you from here?”
- “Where are you seeing the biggest growth in your industry?”
- Find a point of commonality
So next time you are at a networking event, relax, meet some new people and have fun!
For more tips to get ahead in the workplace, check out more of our Insights & Tools.