Many of us dread walking into a social event and introducing ourselves to a group of strangers who are apparently the experts in their respective fields. Talking with these people and making quick connections may come easily to some but prove to be quite difficult for others.
Does the idea of networking summon up feelings of anxiety, nervousness or panic? What do you say? Who do you speak to? You end up -anyone--who looks even vaguely familiar? With this comes the pressure of making the right impression or delivering the perfect elevator pitch which only makes the networking process even more daunting. But networking doesn’t need to be such an intimidating experience. With few pointers you will be calm and focused on making the most out of networking opportunities, no matter how introverted you are.
Being “Genuine” works
Networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, effective networking is a skill that should be with facilitated with ease. It should not come along with a burden of a mandatory attendance or detailed conversations. Take it easy and make the most of it.
Keep a “Track”
Networking doesn’t necessarily commence meeting in-person. Value your connections on networking sites too and focus on making introductions that matter. These connections of your field might share your interests and end-up sharing space with you at the events. Make a list of people who would have value to you, but more importantly, that you can also add value to, and plan your attendance where they will be. It works in favour to have an element of trust and a controlled setting already or else these cold handshakes may be limp attempts.
There is no guide to a great opening statement- To get the conversation started, few collected words- "May I join you" or "What brings you to this event?" works. Do not wait for someone to approach you. Listen intently to their replies. Be a very good listener – as it can be an excellent way to get to know a person.
Prior home-work- “Familiarize yourself”
With a bit of research on the speakers and guests, you can pre-plan the conversation starters as and when you get an opportunity to interact with them to avoid thinking on your feet. Google the speakers and attendees, check on LinkedIn, research their website, get familiar with who will be in attendance. It will help.
Remember to “Follow-up”.
Do express that you enjoyed meeting at the event. Networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you've had a great exchange, ask the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch quickly after the event to show you are interested and valued the conversation, reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.