Yikes! Crowds of people! And you’re expected to barge up, glad-hand strangers and shove your business card into their paws.
If this seems intimidating, it’s time to hone your networking skills and make the most of conferences, industry events and other places where you rub elbows with potential contacts.
A new, free Ragan tip sheet, “10 techniques to beef up your networking,” offers tips for networking the smart way. Bonus: You’ll have more fun than you would playing wallflower.
“If a meet-and-greet event makes you jittery, rest assured you are not alone,” says business etiquette consultant Diane Gottsman. “Just remember: Most of the conference attendees are just like you—looking for someone to genuinely connect and have a fruitful conversation with.”
Don’t blab. Listen.
The goal of networking isn’t to cough out as much data about your own life as possible. It’s to learn about the other person. Ask yourself, “How much can I learn in five minutes that goes beyond general niceties?” says Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications.
The tip sheet includes tactics from a range of experts. Learn how to come up with an icebreaker statement and to make use of advance materials from conferences and other events. Find out how to set goals for events—and why you should tell your new contacts about these goals.
“Provide details about yourself and your work, and ask the people you meet to share details about their lives,” Gottsman says. “Prompt them without probing.”
You’ll also learn:
- What to do before events to maximize your networking.
- Why it’s best just to dive in —and how to do it. Don’t worry; it gets easier with time.
- Tricks you can steal from reporters. You don’t have to be Woodward and Bernstein to try these tactics.
- How to break off a conversation. Don’t get stuck with one contact all night—however interesting the person is.
- Shake hands with the sponsors. Don’t forget the folks behind the table with the banner. They, too, can help your career.
- How Twitter plays into networking. Don’t limit your networking to prowling the after-event cocktail party with a soggy napkin and a plastic cup of chardonnay in your hand.
- Ways to maximize LinkedIn. Ever use the tagging function? Learn how.
- More ways to share the love on social media. Don’t forget one rule your mom taught you: Say thank you.
- The role of email. You will be remembered if you use it well.
- “Blind dating.” It’s possible to use planned events to benefit all participants.