The age-old art of business; a networking event is an effective low-cost method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on being in the same place/venue as others and being open to introductions. Generally speaking, networking events are held face-to-face.
Not everyone is a fan. Not everyone can master the skills involved. But, the great thing about networking events is that they are literally filled with people who WANT to connect – otherwise why else would they be there?
We’ve put together some tips to help you with your quest to network, giving you tips on etiquette whilst attending.
- Know why you are there
You’re going to meet people. That much is obvious but the reason why you are meeting them has to be your talking point. A lot of people will be there for business development, they’ll give you time to talk about why you are there so come prepared with a script ready for chit-chat.
- Be polite when exiting conversations
Talking to someone can take a natural end. There is no need to make it awkward and if there is a pause in conversation with someone you’ve spoken to and you both know there is no networking possibility then don’t be shy saying “well, it’s been a pleasure, time to work the room” or something similar. No one will take offence and talking to the same person for too long can limit your chance to meet new connections.
- Eye contact
If you are talking to someone, try to maintain eye contact to show them they have your attention. It’s rude to be looking around the room, at your phone or reading some literature (unless handed to you or you are taking contact details down) when networking with someone.
- Linkedin or Twitter. Not Facebook.
This is what Linkedin was built for; professionals. Once you’ve spoken to people at a networking event you may come back with business cards and names. Give it until the next day and then add away on Linkedin. It’s the best way to keep hold of all the people you have met professionally without getting too personal. You can then take it from there via email/phone if you had that conversation initially with them. Facebook is too personal for this sort of connection while Twitter you can follow people’s business if you got their handle.
- The handshake
A handshake is the unspoken word that initiates a conversation in almost any social or professional get-together. A timeless greeting that can say a lot about you without a word being spoken.
A weak or limp handshake can show shyness or lack of confidence, too strong and it can be deemed an attempted sign of strength. It’s always good to go with firm, but not too firm of a grip. Don’t forget to stand up if sat down (can be seen as lazy) and make eye contact to show trust.
- Don’t (or try not to at least) interrupt
Talking quickly is a common sign of nerves and when we talk quickly we accidentally interrupt people. If you do accidentally interrupt someone just be aware that you have and give them the chance to say whatever it was you accidentally spoke over. Think about what you are going to say and wait for the social queue (a natural pause or an expectancy for you to speak) before speaking.
Everyone in the room is there for the same reason. There is no need to be worried or panic about you being there. You’ll look back after the event with a smile, some new business connections and a revitalised look and feel about networking events.