Networking isn’t just about making the right first impression, the key is to make a long lasting one – remember, the whole purpose of networking is to build up positive relationships over time. So, when you’re attending a networking event, how you can ensure that you are memorable, especially when everyone in the room is meeting countless other people? How can you guarantee that you’ll be remembered long after the event is over?
The good news is that standing out at a networking event isn’t as difficult as it sounds. There are some handy tips that you can use to master this kind of situation, so read on to find out more about the ways in which you can really work the room and get yourself noticed.
Start Out Right
It can be difficult to put yourself in the right frame of mind when you’re preparing to go to a networking event. Worrying about how you’re going to create the right impression can psych you out. Instead of stressing about it, put all ideas about creating business contacts or making sales on the back burner. Instead, attend the event with the idea that you’re simply going to the event to make new friends, and focus on what you could do for the other attendees rather than what they could do for you.
Before you even arrive at the networking event, think in advance about how you’re going to introduce yourself. Don’t go overboard – nobody needs to hear your life story – but you do need to make yourself sound interesting. Two or three sentences will do, but don’t just give a basic summary of what you do, add some interesting information that will make them keen to find out more about you.
While you’re in preparation mode, you should also come up with some exciting details that you will be able to share with other attendees through the course of the event. Of course, you shouldn’t just reel off a list of the interesting clients you’re working with or the unusual projects you’ve been working on to everybody you meet, however if you can pepper your conversation with a couple of interesting points, you’ll find that you’ll never be struggling for something to say and your conversations will have a more organic flow. Remembering to go in with a positive attitude is key to your success. If you’re naturally shy, it’s especially important to have the mindset that you are going to be liked by other people.
Avoid Your Smartphone
If you have your face glued to your smartphone for the entire event, there’s a good chance that you’ll appear to be unapproachable. This means you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities for personal connections with the other attendees. Put you phone away in your purse or pocket and avoid checking it every few minutes. You’re sure to find that you meet more people that way.
One of the hardest things about a networking event is how to get started, especially if you’re feeling anxious. A room full of strangers can be very intimidating, but don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Instead, just relax, look around, spot a group that appear to be enjoying themselves and approach them, making eye contact and asking if you can join them. They’ll almost certainly say yes, and then all you need to do is listen politely to the conversation and add comments whenever you have something relevant to say.
Make Your Name Memorable
In a room full of people, trying to put names to faces can be a challenge and even more so after the event is over. To make yourself more memorable, you not only need to make sure that you tell everyone your name clearly and loudly, but also try to make associations that will make your name easier to recall later on. Simply by adding a little extra detail such as “White, like the color” or “Swan, like the bird” will help to fix your name in the listener’s mind. This is especially important if your name is particularly awkward to pronounce or especially long. Finding a few ways in which other people can remember it more easily will stand you in good stead.
Not only do you need other people to remember your name, you need to remember their names too. When you’re told a name, always repeat it back to them as this will not only show you are interested, but will also help you to remember it. Before leaving a conversation, repeat their name once more. The more often you repeat their name, the more chance you have of remembering it at the end of the day.
While it may be difficult, it’s important not to spend too long talking to any single person at a networking event. The key is to introduce yourself to as many people as possible, so a maximum of three minutes with each person is ideal. This gives you plenty time for introductions, for making the right impression and for learning more about each other before moving on. A three-minute rule will not only ensure that you get to meet the maximum number of attendees, but it will also ensure your conversation won’t drag.
While this may be easy with certain people, with others it can be a challenge. Some people would talk all day if you let them. One way to get away without appearing rude is to generate a task which must be done and which requires you to move away (one good example is getting another glass of water). Unless you’ve told the person you’ll return, it isn’t rude not to go back – after all, that’s what networking events are about.
It may sound like an easy task to show interest in others while you’re attending a networking event, however it’s all too easy to forget if you’re feeling anxious. To show you’re interested when you’re speaking to someone, you should always make eye contact (don’t allow your gaze to stray around the room), smile frequently and if they make a joke, always laugh. This will give the cue that you find the other person interesting and funny, and when you appear genuinely interested, they’ll feel more comfortable with you.
One good way of showing you’re interested is asking a thoughtful question based on what they’ve just told you. Let’s say that someone has just told you that they have been to Europe on vacation, instead of saying “Wow, I bet that was great,” say something that prompts further interaction such as “Which countries did you visit?” or “What was the most memorable thing you did?”
It’s important to remember when attending a networking event that it isn’t just for the day – a good networking event will forge relationships that will last a long time. So once the event has finished don’t let it end there. The following day, sit down and email all of the people you met. Tell them that you were delighted to meet them, then follow up on any issues you talked about while you were in conversation. Make it as personal as you can – perhaps sharing an article they may find interesting or sharing an insider joke about something that happened at the event. Taking just a little more effort will ensure that you have the best chance of generating a working relationship that lasts.
Networking affords an important opportunity for you to create new and important allies and friends, so it’s important to make the right impression and to forge new connections. Although networking events can be nerve-wracking, they can also be a lot of fun and you can make many contacts that will prove to be valuable over time. Practice these key skills and over time you’ll start feeling more comfortable when attending this sort of occasion.