So you are about to go to this conference or that networking event and you somehow expect that you should and mix and mingle? (you are right, by the way, you should mix and mingle) Your hands are sweaty and you can’t sleep for 3 nights?
Well, take a deep breath!
It’s not that hard. It’s only people. Just like you and me. There are some simple techniques that will allow you to approach a networking event successfully.
Here are 3 steps that will make any networking event successful and fun:
1. Know why you are in the room! Be authentic.
Be clear on the reasons why you are at the conference or networking event and be prepared to tell people you meet. Most people go to networking events or conferences, because they want to learn something new or meet new people or both. Listen to the speakers and have an opinion and be open to share which speaker or topic inspired you.
2. Start a conversation.
Now the introvert in you may raise a red flag, but it’s actually quite straight forward. Remember why you are the conference. Know what inspires you at this event. Then walk the room and pick 2 people to start a conversation with. Here are some great ice-breaker questions:
- What brings you to this event?
- Which speaker/topic has inspired you?
- What have you learned thus far?
- What are your work challenges that you hope to find an answer for?
3. Leave with an action plan.
Make sure you leave a conversation with action points (either for you or the other person). What I mean by this is that during your conversation you -hopefully- have established that you have more to discuss. Make sure to follow up on a question asked or just a short email that says, “Hi, nice to meet you” and then suggest a time and place to follow up in person or on a call on questions that remained unanswered.
Most conferences or networking events are a great place to meet people who can become mentors or maybe help you in your next career move. Sometimes you even make friends. Therefore, do put some effort into meeting people so that you don’t miss a great opportunity.