Going to a networking event? Arrive early!
Get there early when the group is small and manageable. Enter the room with a smile. If you have a smile on your face, you will be perceived as approachable, enthusiastic, and friendly. Your self-confidence will begin to soar.
Make a goal to arrive 15 to 20 minutes early. (Hint: You’ll get a better parking spot!) 😉
Make sure you begin to mingle as soon as you arrive. Never isolate yourself with only your friends or colleagues you know. Move around. Spend no more than 3 to 5 minutes talking with any one person. Listen more than you talk.
One of the advantages of arriving early is you get to meet and greet people as they arrive. Act the part of the host. Make introductions to others. Be the connector. It also gives you the choice of whom you might like to approach later and get to know better. With this tactic, it is possible that, at any given time during the event, you will see more familiar than unfamiliar faces. If the event will have a speaker and there is seating, remember that early birds have an advantage in placing themselves by important and well-connected people in the group.
If you feel a little nervous, shake it off and extend your hand to offer a firm handshake. Networking doesn’t come naturally to most people. Introduce yourself. Once they say their name, repeat it immediately. You might say, “Great to meet you, Sally Smith.” This will help you remember their name.
Networking is not about bragging about your accomplishments and other shameless self-promotion. It is about finding out more about other people and what they do, letting them know about your skills, and suggesting areas where you can help their projects and businesses.
Don’t be in such a rush to leave. You have to plan ahead to stay late. Some of my best networking has been hanging out with those who are serious about meeting new people and making long-term relationships. That is often done when the meeting is over and the pressure is off. Mingle with the leaders. Networkers who stay late will let their guard down a bit and be more natural. That’s when you can get to see who they really are.
Some of the most successful networkers I know always linger until there is no one else to talk with. Some of the most important “schmoozing” takes place after the meeting. If you meet someone new and they catch your attention, invite them to have coffee or a drink after the meeting away from the crowd. Ask them to suggest someone you should know. Networking doesn’t have to end when the meeting is over.
BONUS Article: “Come Early and Stay Late!”
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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