3 Counterintuitive Ways to Network at an Event
Time and time again, you’ll hear the most successful businesspeople say that knowing how to network at an event is one of the best things you can do for your career. But this can be a problem for some. If you’re naturally shy about approaching people, you probably can’t even begin to fathom how a person “works” a room - and even if you do know how, you might not be confident about doing it yourself. Then there’s the possibility of getting lost in the shuffle. If so many people think that networking is important, that means that there a lot of people networking out there all the time. So how do you stand out? The solution is simple: use unexpected techniques to help ease yourself into the world of networking while leaving stronger impressions.
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1. Change your mindset.
Don’t look at a networking event from the “What can it do for me?” angle; don’t look for jobs or clients or people to add to your LinkedIn network. Come ready to give rather than receive. What does this mean? Enter the room ready to help. Bring whatever you know to the table and dole it out to others. This way you won’t be remembered as just another business card - you’ll be the person that had a solution or a tip for someone’s problem.
2. Let others do the talking.
You know that person at parties that never stops gabbing the whole night? You don’t want to be that person. You don’t need to make a twenty minute sales pitch or overcompensate for a lack of experience with an overflow of talk. In fact, sometimes you can make the best impression by just listening. If you really pay attention and you add in your own thoughtful bits every so often, you’ll appear much more professional. So sit back and let someone else do the hard work - just don’t zone out.
3. Keep your momentum going: Keep in touch after the event.
So, you “worked” a room, collected a pile of business cards, and had a few interesting conversations. Job well done, right? Wrong. Your job’s not over. Why spend so much energy networking at an event if you never talk to the people you met again? Following up is the most important part of networking. Fortunately, if you used the tips above, you have a few great routes you can take while doing so. Were you doling out the tips all night? Pick who you’d like to keep in touch with and send them another tip related to what you talked about - an article, a recommendation, someone to follow on Twitter. If you help them, they’ll help you. Or, were you the listening ear for everyone that night? Great - you can pick something they mentioned and use it in your follow up. Prove that you were paying attention and that you’re interested. They’ll appreciate that you’re someone that actually listens to them talking, and will probably want to keep up with you in the future.
What networking event tips do you use? Let us know in the comment box below.