Networking: Navigating the Maze
You’re at a business event and you need to turn a room full of strangers into a room full of potential contacts. How do you go about it and stop yourself becoming trapped in the corner by Kevin from Generic & Co. or perching on the side-lines like a wallflower? Follow these 5 steps for networking success!
Step 1: About you
Take some time before the event to polish up your ‘elevator pitch’ before you enter the room. (Your ‘elevator pitch’ is your one simple sentence that describes what you do or what you are promoting that day.) Having this on the tip of your tongue will give you the confidence to take the initiative to talk to people you have never met before.
Step 2: What’s your ice breaker?
“What made you come here today” is a simple yet great opening line and as soon as your fellow delegate finishes you are ready to introduce yourself! Being in charge from the outset is a great confidence booster.
Step 3: Identify some targets?
Check for any relevant speakers or contact attending. Even if their industries and expertise don’t match yours, they may be the key to opening up useful contacts around them.
Step 4: The 4 Minute Warning
If 4 minutes is enough to alert us to a nuclear disaster, then it should be more than enough time to figure out how valuable of an asset your new acquaintance is. Remember to get in, get out and get round as many people as possible.
Step 5: Exit Lines
Avoid trapping each other in polite but fruitless conversation. You’re all there for the same reason, so be honest with your peers and with yourself. Wait for a lull and simply state you have lots of people to get round to meet. Then offer a LinkedIn connection or a business card.
Remember, go in with a plan of action, assume an air of confidence (!) and gear yourself toward brevity and you should come out with a fistful of contacts.