This article is a lot different than my Befriending The Plug article. Instead, this article will give you straight to the point tips on how to work the room, the right way, and to gain contacts without feeling awkward or desperate.
These kind of situations, specifically when it comes to networking, can be a bit nerve-recking simply because you have to go up to a person or a group of people you do not know, and speak as if you know them...
I get it. I understand.
That exact reason is to why I created this article on how to network at a networking event... the right way.
1. To set a goal or to not?
I go back and forth with myself often on whether I should set a goal for myself on how many contacts I should get. Honestly, I feel like when you add extra pressure on top of something that is already a bit abnormal to you, it can definitely add some salt to the wound.
Instead of setting goals for yourself, just set an estimation instead. Tell yourself:
"When I go into this event, I am going to get 1-3 contacts"
Usually when you do it that way, ultimately you end up walking out with more contacts than you expected. Setting an estimation is better, at least for me, than setting a goal. Rather than saying 'I'm going to get 5 contacts' - you become a bit TOO selective because you've only given yourself 5 people to talk to...
Set an estimation and see what happens. If you're a seasoned networker, setting a goal works a lot better.
2. Work the room
Once you've set that goal, whether it was before the event or when you get there, walk around just to see who is all there. While you are walking around, make quick eye contact with certain people rather than attempting to have tunnel vision.
The whole point of working the room...
At least for me..
Is to be seen and to see who else is there.
3. Should you mingle with people you know?
Now, don't spend all night speaking with someone you can call up tomorrow. But, usually if you were invited, you should know at least one person, and if you don't, invite someone to join you. Talking with people you already know can warm you up for the real game. Plus, it already puts you in a talking mode.
Again, and I will say this again. Don't sit and talk with the person you know all night. You are there to meet new people, not talk to people you already know.
4. A shot, a beer, a cocktail or wine?
This is a situation I get stuck in often too. Depending on how you are with liquor, I recommend if you drink, it's a one or two drink max. And, if you choose to drink, make sure you have some gum in your pocket.
I can admit, liquor can loosen you up a bit, and I won't be the person typing this article saying:
DRINKING IS BAD...
9 times out of 10, whatever networking event you are at, drinking is involved. My personal preference is to stay away from shots, because personally, they send the wrong signal.
However, if you are into beers or wine, I recommend those two. It's easy, cheap, and does you justice pretty quick.
5. Approach someone, anyone (not really)
After you've done your duty of setting your estimation, working the room, talking with someone you know and grabbin' a quick sip (optional), it's time to stop wasting time and go in for the kill.
Confidence is key in networking. So, if you feel like you are not confident before you approach someone, ask yourself these 2 questions:
1. What do I do and why?
2. Am I a benefit to the mass and how?
In even simpler terms, know who you are and why you do what you do. That is the best conversation starter after introducing yourself. After the conversation warms up and you get to know the person you are speaking with, plant seeds.
Compliment whatever it is that person does for a living and tell them something you do that is similar to that. If you do nothing similar and know someone who does something similar in that field or industry, talk about that.
6. Can I have your number? Or card? Or?...
After you've walked up to this person, introduced yourself and asked them what brought them to the event, continue the small talk.
That's the best way to know if the person is cool or not.
Now the thing that I find many of my clients are uncomfortable with is asking for contact information. Relax!
Simply ask. That's all you need to do:
Is there a number or email I can reach you at? I think we can definitely collab on a few things.
When you ask for a card or number, personally it's a bit too forward. If they feel your vibe, they'll pass along either or, just remember that the follow up is what really counts, and thats where many go wrong.
7. The Follow-Up
This is an excerpt I took from an article written by Raymmar Tirado. The follow-up is the main focus on nurturing a relationship with a contact. So here are some quick points he mentioned, to close the deal:
Always make sure you follow up with any prospect you met at a networking event. There’s a reason your contact information is on a business card, after all.
Be sure to send personalized emails or handwritten notes to everyone you met. Include anything spoken about and an invitation to meet for coffee or lunch. Close the message with a link to your website or a recent article from your blog and take it from there.
Under no circumstances does meeting someone at a networking event and getting an email address from a business card authorize you to add a person to your email lists.
There is no better way to ensure that your email will be ignored than if you immediately start spamming someone. Just be yourself; have fun and don’t be shy. Think of it like this: You are actually doing someone a favor by approaching him or her because it saves him or her the trouble of having to come to you.