Tomorrow I’m booked to attend the #Bizpartyinspires Conference in Dublin. The people who have booked to attend the conference are all part of a Twitter chat group that happens on Wednesday nights, so it will be really great to put faces to Twitter handles and take the networking offline. I don’t know about you, but, being an introvert, I find these sort of events a little bit intimidating, so I was grateful to receive some of these tips from Sean Weafer, author of The High Trust Advisor: How to find, close and keep excellent clients, when he presented at a networking event that I attended last year. I find them very useful when preparing to attend events like this.
- Remember the reason why you booked to attend? What was it? Were there specific speakers that you wanted to hear, people that you wanted to meet? Whatever the reason, set yourself a goal for the event and try and focus on achieving it. for example to come away with 3 new contacts that you can follow up with coffee.
- In all likelihood, you will be judged from the moment that you enter the room, so make sure that you’ve dressed for the event. Knowing that you look your best will help reduce your nerves.
- Check your appearance before you leave home.
- Make sure that you bring business or networking cards with you.
- Practice your handshake. Like it or not, this alone tells people a lot about you.
- If you find these events intimidating, then you’re not alone. Try and go with someone that you know if possible, but know that there will be a large portion of people who will also find the event uncomfortable.
- Practice what you will say, when you introduce yourself. So something like “Hi, my name is Karen. I…. ” And don’t forget to smile!
- Look at the body language of the people in the room, and see where you can join in the conversations:
- The person alone is a prime candidate to talk to. They are probably as nervous as you and will appreciate having someone to talk to.
- Two people talking to each other. If they are facing each other, then the conservation is closed, so don’t try and join in. If they are facing each other at an angle, then they have created a space for you to join them. Just ask, “would you mind if I join you?”
- In larger groups, look for an opening to join the group. For example in a group of three people, if they are grouped in a triangle, then the conversation is closed, whereas if they are grouped like three sides of a square, then there’s an opening for you. Look for openings.
- Listen to what people are saying, and let them do the talking. Don’t forget, people like to talk about themselves, and this saves you having to talk about yourself, if you’re uncomfortable doing this.
- If you struggle with small talk then remember the basics and use open questions that require more than a yes or no answer:
- And what do you do?
- How did you get here today?
- What do you think about:
- a recent sports match
- a programme on TV
- a movie in the cinema
- a story in the news
So I’m almost ready for tomorrow:
- alarm clock set, as it’s an early start
- clothes ready
- shoes cleaned
- ticket printed off
- directions ready
- business cards in handbag
- diary in handbag
- objectives in mind
- tweets and status updates telling people that I’m going, have been posted
As an introvert, preparation is key for me. Sean’s tip about how to work a room, by actively looking for people to talk to and knowing where opportunities for opening are has made this a lot less scary. As much as I enjoy networking online, to really get to know people, you need to take it offline.
So over to you. How do you prepare for offline networking events? I’d love to hear your tips, so feel free to post them below.
Take care for now