Continuing on from last week’s tips on networking:
On the Day
- If you’re nervous, have a power song – something that makes you feel upbeat and confident, and listen to it in the car or on headphones before you go in. I actually have a whole playlist which I use now and then as a boost, so I pick one song from the selection.
- If you have to stand up and introduce yourself or give your 60-second elevator pitch, don’t panic! Everyone is in the same boat. Take a deep breath before you start, and try not to rush through it. Pause occasionally, and if you don’t want to make eye contact, pick a point above someone’s head to concentrate on, or look around the room. If the old trick of imagining everyone naked works for you, do that!
- Easier said than done, but try to relax. If you feel uncomfortable, head to the refreshment table and strike up a conversation with people there. Asking someone to pass you a spoon or bonding over biscuits is a great way to break the ice. Alternatively, approach a group of friendly-looking people and introduce yourself when there’s a gap in conversation. Someone will usually include you when you reach them, and it may be someone you already know.
- Ask the organisers to introduce you to people. Some events do this as standard anyway, particularly if you’re new or if you work in a field they know someone else is interested in. Once you get into the swing of things, it’s easy to forget there was an attendee you really wanted to talk to, so asking for an introduction ensures that doesn’t happen.
- Listen carefully to what other people say. Ask questions and offer information if you can. Don’t thrust your cards on people and give them a hard sell. You will also find yourself in a conversation with someone for longer than you intended. Be as polite as possible and if they pause for breath, excuse yourself to return your cup/get a refill/go to the restroom or say “it’s been lovely talking to you, but I…”