Have you ever walked into a room, meeting or event and not known a single person there? You might initially feel isolated, lonely and maybe even a bit intimidated. Eventually, you warm up and somehow strike up a conversation with someone who likely feels the same way you do.
I recently attended an event where I didn’t know anyone else in the room. Although we were all there for the same reason and shared something in common, I felt like I was on an island of one until the group participated in a few ice breakers.
Networking events and meeting new people is incredibly uncomfortable for some people, but incredibly important if you want to be successful. If you create a strategy beforehand and take advantage of the opportunity, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away feeling invigorated.
So what can you do to make the most of your next networking experience? Here are 5 tips for success based on my own experience.
- Know your “why”
- Knowing your why is important in many parts of life. Knowing why you’re attending a networking event will help you walk into the room with the right intentions. Consider what it is you want to take away at the end.
- Be first to move
- Don’t be afraid to approach someone and introduce yourself. Breaking the ice is tough, but if you start early you’ll be perceived as friendly and engaging. You’ll also make it easier for others to open up.
- Ask open-ended questions
- Keep the conversation going by asking questions starting with what, why, where, when and how. This prevents short yes/no responses and helps you get to know that person better.
- Be genuine
- Networking is about creating trust and relationships, and you’ll only do that if you’re honest, authentic and real.
- You likely walked away with some business cards, phone numbers or email addresses. If you don’t follow-up with the people you met, then you’ve wasted your time and theirs. Reach out to your new contacts and remind them of what you talked about and how you might be able to help each other.
Whether you’re networking to generate sales leads, to seek and share new ideas, or simply to build your reputation in your industry, hopefully you put these tips to action and make the most of the experience!
Let me know what other tips you’d suggest!