3 Tips To Meet People at Networking Events
I have always hated networking. When I first started out my career and had to go to weekly conferences and events for my job I had an extremely difficult time socializing. I loved my job and had so much in common with the people that I met, but small talk about work felt cheesy.
Many people feel awkward when there’s a lot of pressure to network. What are you supposed to talk about? What if you say the wrong thing or give someone the wrong impression? After all, your job could depend on your networking successfully.
If you’re like me and you have trouble getting into the swing of networking, never fear! I’ve figured out the secret to networking for even the most socially inept conversationalists out there, and I’m ready to share my secrets with the world.
Connect with the host
The host of the party is going to be your key to meeting the right people. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to a party and spent hours making small talk with random people, only to find out that the host of the party could connect me with the right people in only a matter of seconds.
Rather than navigating your way through the throngs of strangers on your own, a party’s host is more likely to know what sorts of things you’ll have in common with his or her other guests. If you don’t know the host yet be sure to introduce yourself right away, and explain your connection to the party. By describing yourself even just a little bit to the host they’ll likely be able to get you in with the right people.
When the event ends be sure to thank the host and stay in contact with them! Who knows what events and people they’ll be able to hook you up with in the future.
Bring a friend
One of the best ways to ease the awkwardness of networking is to bring a friend. I don’t mean your college roommate, but someone who is in the same industry as you or a work friend.
Standing and chatting with a friend at the beginning of a party will make you look like you already have an “in”, rather than being an awkward loner. You and your buddy can slowly start to include the people around you in your conversations, and before you know it you’ll have met a whole group of like-minded networkers.
Warning: be sure that you’re connecting with people other than your friend as well. The worst thing that you can do is spend the entire networking event with just that one person and not meet anyone. Not only will that defeat the purpose of your attending in the first place, but you’ll seem stand-offish and will be unlikely to be invited to future events.
Connect with “the popular guy”
In addition to the host, there is always a person at every event who knows how to work the room in ways that you could never dream of doing. He or she is a smooth talker and reels everyone in with great conversational skills and impressive stories.
More often than not, I find this person to be pretty annoying. Yet, I have found that putting up with their bragging can yield some serious benefits. Like the host, and often times even more so, they know a lot of people at the party and can get you in touch with the right types. They might even be the right person to network with themselves. Even if you can’t stand this person, try putting up with them long enough to get to know the people around them.
Networking can be tricky and frustrating. Yet, if you try these tips out you’re more likely to have luck cutting out the small talk and getting straight to the efficient networking that you came for.
Do you have any networking tricks? Let us know in the comments!