Networking is a wonderful way of establishing meaningful connections that could later prove useful to you and your company. According to a LinkedIn survey, almost 80% of professionals believe that networking is essential for career success. Here are some networking tips to remember next time you attend an event to help you engage with people easier and make a lasting impression.
MAKE THE FIRST MOVE
It’s true, initiating a conversation is the most uncomfortable part of socializing. Don’t worry though, this is something you can learn and get better at, once you do it a couple of times. You only need to try various techniques and see which ones you find most effective.
Before you start, you must choose the right time. Make sure that person is not engaged in another conversation, they’re not in a hurry or in the middle of a task. Once you check that, you’re ready to go.
There are various ways of naturally starting a conversation.
The easiest way to approach somebody new is to just walk up and say Hello. Pair this up with a smile and a confident handshake and you’re going to make a pleasant impression. Keep in mind, however, that you should be prepared to give a brief presentation of your activity to get the conversation going.
If you don’t want to go into the professional area right from the start you can always use the given setting to exchange some ideas. You can throw in a remark on the event planning, on the presentations you have attended (if any) or even start by complimenting the coffee/snacks you have during the coffee break or even the venue. Be honest, but at the same time keep your remarks positive. Negative comments might come off as bad energy and people might not feel as comfortable opening up to you. The following examples may help:
- The coffee’s pretty good, don’t you think?
- This place is wonderful. Have you been here before?
- I really enjoyed the first presentation. What do you think?
Wearing something that makes you stand out from the crowd can actually be a great conversation starter at any type of event. You can also approach people easier by complimenting their shoes or accessories. That is certainly going to flatter anybody. Here are some ideas:
- I simply love your bag! It matches your outfit so well!
- Hey there! Let me tell you that your shoes are stunning!
- I have to say… this color looks great on you!
LET YOUR BODY DO THE TALKING
Body language is an important aspect of effective interaction. You can use your posture, face expression and hand gestures to show interest in what other people are sharing with you.
Tilt your head slightly to the side – this lets your partner know that you are actively listening to them
Maintain eye contact during the conversation, both while talking and listening, but don’t stare. It has been suggested that eye contact should be maintained for 50% of the time you speak and for 70% of the time you are listening (Jodi Schulz, Michigan State University).
Slightly raise your eyebrows from time to time to express interest in their ideas
Nod a few times whenever you agree, it gives people the feeling that you are on the same wavelength and also encourages them to open up
Keep your hands as visible as possible and your shoulders relaxed
Don’t forget to smile!
KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING
Once you’ve accomplished the most difficult task, initiating the conversation, here comes the easy part: keeping the conversation going. A balance should be established between sharing information about yourself and listening to your partner, so remember to ask appropriate questions that are relevant for both of you.
ESTABLISHING A CONNECTION
Great, you have approached somebody, got acquainted, exchanged a few ideas… now what? Usually, here comes the part where you exchange business cards in order to keep in touch and collaborate on future projects. However, make sure they are well-designed, as Small Business Trends suggested that 72% of people judge a company or person based on the quality of their business card.
If sharing a business card seems too formal or you simply don’t have any at hand, you can simply share your LinkedIn account and establish a connection directly on the platform. Here’s another great reason for keeping your profile up-to-date or signing in on the platform if you haven’t already.
All things considered, whether you want to expand your professional connections, to find new career opportunities or simply exchange ideas on a given topic you are interested in, networking is undeniably one of the most effective ways to do so. Interacting with new people may sound intimidating at first, but this is a skill you can master with practice as long as you are friendly, confident and open-minded.
LinkedIn Pressroom, Eighty-percent of professionals consider networking important to career success, 22 June 2017, (URL:https://news.linkedin.com/2017/6/eighty-percent-of-professionals-consider-networking-important-to-career-success, accessed on 09.11.2022)
William, David, 72 Percent Will Judge Your Company by the Quality of Your Business Card (INFOGRAPHIC), 18 January 2018, (URL: https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/01/business-card-facts.html, accessed on 02.11.2022)
Schulz, Jodi, Eye contact: Don’t make these mistakes, Michigan State University, 31 December 2012, (URL: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/eye_contact_dont_make_these_mistakes, accessed on 10.11.2022)
Indeed, Best Networking Tips: How to Make a Connection, published on January 3, 2020, Youtube, (URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVf5c7NthSw, accessed on 27.10.2022)
Erdman, Stephan (Confidence Triggers), 10 Simple Ways To Improve Your Networking Skills – How To Network With People Even If You’re Shy!, published on March 16, 2017, Youtube URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5xTbn6OnAA&t=329s accessed on 27.10.2022)
Autor: Ana-Maria Păun, Senior English Trainer
Ana-Maria Păun este absolventă a Facultății de Limbi și Literaturi Străine, specializarea Limba și Literatura Rusă – Limba și Literatura Engleză, și a masterului specializat în traducere din limba rusă intitulat Limba Rusă Aplicată – Tehnici de traducere. Ana-Maria deține atestatul lingvistic Cambridge Advanced, precum și un certificat de traducător pentru limba engleză, în domeniile literatură și medicină-farmacie.
Ana este pasionată de studiul și predarea limbilor străine și s-a implicat de-a lungul timpului în numeroase proiecte ca traducător voluntar, cu precădere în domeniul educației. Firea calmă, adaptabilitatea și răbdarea Anei fac din cursurile de limba engleză un mediu plăcut, unde cursanții capătă încredere în propriile forțe și își perfecționează abilitățile. Cursurile Anei sunt dinamice, având la bază activități interactive și tematici variate, relevante și actuale.