Say no to awkwardness! - Your guide to successful networking
There is no denying that networking has become an essential part of everyone’s career.
Regardless of what profession you’re in, I’m sure you have been to or have received invitations to different social and drinking events. Daunting though such events may seem, they are actually powerful gateways to a successful and fulfilling career. However, in order to maximize the benefits of networking events, we must, as you may well be aware, be willing to socialize with others. Put simply, we must be willing to ‘put ourselves out there’, out in the unknown.
Now I know that not everyone is born to be a social king or queen but by following these simple rules, networking event could be as simple as a walk in the park and you could even turn these nightmares of yours into a fun and rewarding experience!
Avoid lingering around the entrance, cloakroom and bathroom! Let’s be honest, who would want to talk to someone who appears to be leaving or smells like toilet flush? These are all unattractive moves and can reveal a great deal of insecurity or lack of confidence.
Where should I go then?
The sweet spots for high quality conversation are always near the bar or where food is served. While this may sound cliché food and drinks do bring people together. A simple cocktail could easily help lessen the tenseness and if you are not a big fan of alcohol, a nice snack could immediately brighten your mood and you could even be sharing the snack with the people right next to you! These are all good warm-ups to conversations and by simply grabbing a drink or snack, you show that you are actually engaged in the event and you make yourself much more approachable.
2. What to talk about:
It is not wrong to ask people how they are or what they do but think about this – how would you feel if you get asked the same question over and over again? The truth is, these conversation starters are boring and they often lead people to nowhere. What should I say/ask then? Standout from the crowd by asking interesting and unique questions! Get close with the person you are talking to and show your interest in him/her. You could easily ignite someone’s heart by asking these interesting open-ended questions:
'That’s a really nice colourful dress/suit. I like your style! What sort of style influences do you have?'
'Working on any exciting projects recently?'
'What motivated you to do what you are doing now?'
'What was the highlight of your day?'
'How was your weekend?'
'Any upcoming traveling/vacation plans?'
Also try your best to match the person’s feelings and excitements – you could only get happier if you know the other person is also happy for your achievements or is as excited as you are about your future plans!
3. Know the name of the person you are talking to
How would you feel if at the end of a long conversation someone forgets your name? As emphasized by Dale Carnegie ’a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.’ When a person tells you his/her name remember it as if your life depends on it! You could greatly elevate your relationship with your conversation partner by addressing them through their name – it creates a sense of friendliness and brings you two closer to each other. By showing that you remember someone’s name, not only do you show that you care, but you also show that you have basic manners and respect.
4. Closing the conversation
Ending a conversation could sometimes be tricky and if not handled properly, could lead to awkward situations. An easy or safe way to end one is to thank them for the conversation. Alternatively, you could end a conversation with an opener – ask for their business card and mention about the possibility of a future meet up! But a key point to remember is to not over commit – don't invite him/her out for lunch next weekend unless you are certain that you can make it.