Allison, Guest Author
Networking events are a great way for you to meet other professionals in your area, but it can be exhausting to keep up with a busy calendar, and make the most out of each event. And, for those who are more introverted, meeting a lot of new people at one time can seem daunting.
1. Clear your mind before entering the event. ~ Many networking events take place in the early evening, after you’ve most likely had a long, arduous day at work. Be sure to check your negative energy at the door, or others might sense it! Even if you feel so tired you wish you could back out, go in with an open mind. Focus your mind on the task ahead of you – meeting new people and establishing relationships.
If you can, try to give yourself a bit of alone time prior to the event to re-charge whether this is listening to your favorite music driving over, or stopping for a quick coffee prior to the event and enjoying it while checking out some blog posts or recent news from the day.
2. Talk to people who are standing alone. ~ Ever feel a bit awkward at a networking event? Everyone has at one point or another! If you see someone standing alone, strike up a conversation. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to, plus you won’t have to worry about breaking up a group’s conversation by approaching multiple people mid-way through and introducing yourself.
3. Repeat your contact’s name. ~ While you’re speaking with someone, repeat their name back to them a few times during the conversation. It helps you to demonstrate that you’re paying attention to what your contact is saying, and you’ll remember names better that way. Two or three times per conversation should do the trick!
4. Act as a facilitator for others at the event. ~ Welcome others into your conversations by introducing the people you’ve spoken with to others. Try it by introducing each new person you meet to at least one other person, and soon you’ll know a lot more people! Also, by being the one who connects others, people will see you as resourceful.
5. Personalize your encounters. ~ The exchange of business cards is fairly standard at networking events, but you can make yourself more personable (and memorable) by writing your personal contact information on the back of your card and a quick note such as ‘Please be in touch!’Your new contacts are much more likely to reach out to you through your cell phone number or personal email address than they are a main company phone line.
6. Be selective about your events. ~ Choose networking events where you know you’ll have something in common with the other people attending. Many local networking events may not be industry-specific, so try to filter out the events that are most worth your time. Check out the WeddingWire World Tour schedule to see if we’ll be coming to a town near you, or be on the lookout for an email from us when we’ll be near you for a Mix & Mingle, Networking Night or Workshop!
7. Make the first move. ~ If you’ve been to a lot of networking events, you’ve noticed that attendees tend to polarize. Some people are extremely social and will spend the whole time proactively making conversations with others. The other types of people tend to sit alone, waiting for other to approach them. They’re often on their phones trying to look busy. Approach those people and make the first move! You’ll be helping them break the ice and begin a conversation. It’s great for your network, and it’s a kind deed you can do for others to ease their tension.
8. Be yourself. ~ Although you’re at a professional event, don’t be afraid to show some personality! It can be stressful and draining to keep up an overly-stiff façade while at networking events, and as a result it can make the whole ordeal much more unpleasant than it has to be. Honesty and authenticity are great traits, and they’ll shine through if you’re being yourself. Don’t worry about trying to keep your personal life separate (unless you want to!). Be yourself and you’ll make both friends and professional contacts.
9. Pull, don’t push. ~ The conversations you have with other wedding and event professionals is the whole reason to attend networking events. When you’re engaging in a conversation with another Pro, be sure to pull the conversation in a certain direction without pushing a topic. You can pull the conversation by asking questions about the other person and getting to know them. Don’t push the conversation by talking about yourself and forcing the topic.
10. Reward yourself. ~ If networking isn’t your thing, make it easier to on yourself by providing an incentive! If you meet your goal of attending an event and walking away with a few good connections, be sure to reward yourself afterward. Whether your reward is a weekend getaway or even just a nice dinner, give yourself a pat on the back for breaking out of your comfort zone!
Copyright © 2014 – Allison. Allison is a staff writer for WeddingWire.com‘s ProBlog.
Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. 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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