Networking gets a bad rap. Talking about yourself in a room full of people talking about themselves? Netflix, UberEats and not leaving the house sounds so much better.
Yet here we are.
You’ve bought your ticket to the Student’s Association of Management and Marketing’s Annual Networking Night, you’ve already planned what you’re wearing and now all you have to do is work the room.
In the business world, we all understand that at times it can more about who you know, not what you know. Why do we skip the events where we can make valuable connections with industry professionals that can grow into beneficial relationships? Are we scared we’ll embarrass ourselves? Is it the fear of an awkward conversations that keeps us away?
Throw caution to the wind and buckle up because SAMM is about help you become the networking stars that we know you are. Fear no more, here are 10 essential tips to help you work the room like a pro on Wednesday night.
1. Don’t say no.
Too often people cringe at the thought of a networking event, but that attitude is going to get you nowhere. Think about what you want to get out of networking events and if they have the potential to fulfill that purpose. Also, what else would you be doing if you didn’t go? If it’s nothing out of the ordinary then why not come along?
2. Prepare for the best and the worst, and expect uncomfortable.
Preparation can get you a long way. On your way to any networking event think about what you want to take away from the night and what questions you want answered. It’s always a good idea to have a few questions prepared in your mind in case a conversation hits a lull, these moments should be expected. It’s going to get awkward at times (and that’s okay!). The sooner you realise this, the sooner you will have more meaningful conversations and receive better answers.
3. Ask the easy questions.
Too many times have I silently joined a group wondering how do I get into the conversation. It can be as simple as ‘May I join you?’. Try to gage the conversation from a distance before approach. If two people are deep in conversation, try not to jump in an interrupt, but wait for a lull in conversation where it would be appropriate to join in.
4. Don’t talk, make conversation.
It is important to remember that meaningful conversations are more important than telling your own story. The professionals that attend most networking events are here in their own time. Be prepared to keep someone engaged by asking them questions around interesting topics, ideas and their experiences and then work your stories and ambitions into the conversation as you go along.
5. Listen first, make them feel special, then talk.
Listening is your biggest tool at any networking event. If you can listen and take a genuine interest in an industry professional, conversation can easily roll on. Make them feel special by asking them questions about the experiences and topics you discuss. If your next question comes from their answer then they will feel valued. When the moment is there then talk about yourself.
6. Make eye contact, smile and repeat their name.
These three tricks are probably the easiest thing you can do to make an industry representative remember your name. Not only does body language show your interest and enthusiasm but after you have said their name 5 times you are much less likely to forget it the next day when you’re searching them on LinkedIn.
7. Be a giver and invest in other givers.
When you are networking with a professional one of the best things you can do is to ask yourself how can you add value to their professional life without expecting anything in return. Seek out opportunities to help those people you respect and think about what you can give to them during the conversation. You never know, it may just be a coffee and a chat, but if you can see the potential during conversation, then don’t be afraid to ask for their contact details so you can follow up later on.
8. Introduce yourself to anyone who is sitting on their own.
Student, industry professional or event staff, go up to them and start a conversation. Once two of you are talking others will gravitate to you. Or ask their suggestions for who to talk to. You never know, you could be making friends a future CEO.
9. Demonstrate your networking skills by introducing the person you just met to someone new.
Demonstrate your awesome people skills by spreading the networking love and introduce people to others you have met on the night. Kick off the conversation with some introductory questions and dismiss yourself to go network elsewhere. Not only will good karma come your way, but this good deed will only add to a lasting impression you leave in your wake.
10. Follow up.
Finally, follow up anyone who you sparked an interesting conversation with. LinkedIn is your home base and you have less than 48 hours before the window of opportunity fades away. Cement those relationships that you worked so hard to create into your network.
If you give it a shot, networking can be more than a night of boring conversations. You never know where one conversation could lead. Put your expectations aside and come join us at SAMM’s Annual Networking Night at The Marriott Hotel. All it can take is one meaningful conversation to kick start your business career.