People won’t come to you, and opportunities don’t come to those who wait but to those who make them happen. By reaching out and connecting with two new people a week you aren’t waiting to be chosen, you’re choosing yourself. You’re making a statement to yourself and to others that you’re here, that you care and that you’re listening.
Networking like a boss has to be something you deliberately do with every opportunity to you are given. It is a mindset. As an introvert I’ve taught myself how to be extroverted when I need to be. I know hands on that working a room at a professional gathering can be overwhelming.
The one thing that has helped me overcome any anxiety is knowing that people want YOU! The best part about going to events is people are looking to meet fun andpeople just like you. That’s why they are there! Don’t pressure yourself. You don’t have to be the life of the party. Just be good enough to remember.
One of my favorite mantras I use to guide my career is to never overestimate what you can do in a day, but never underestimate what you can do in a month. Two new people a week may not sound like a lot of people. You probably meet half a dozen new people every Friday night already. But that’s 8 new people a month, 24 people over 3 months, and nearly 100 new people a year that you deliberately sought out and connected with. With each new connection you are spinning your web, and the larger and stronger the web, the more likely you are to catch something in it.
Ok, so found an awesome event you want to go to. Maybe your a member of Empowering Women Now and are going to one of our women only events. You look fresh. You’re feeling good about yourself (maybe?) and are ready to make some good connections. You even have a buddy to help tackle the crowd. There isn’t a single soul that you recognize. Maybe you spot the host who greets you and shortly takes off to entertain others. You’re on your own now.
What do you do?
1. Act Like You Belong
Enter the place with a purpose.
Alter your physiology so you can alter your psychology. Maintain a confident presence with your—even if it doesn’t feel natural. The networking begins as soon as you enter the room. People can sense a confident vibe. Fake it till you make it if you have to.
To get in the zone I listen to my favorite music or podcast. This helps be build up momentum and confidence to talk to people.
If social settings feel uncomfortable then take comfort in knowing that someone else in there feels the same way. A lot of people are more insecure than you think. They also want to be liked and accepted.
2. Non-Verbal Cues
This might not seem like a big deal butcan close people off. Stand up like a boss but be approachable. Smile and have good eye contact. Even though you are mentally open to meeting new people, your body language could prevent others from approaching you.
Pro tip: Keep your drink in your left hand. When you shake hands, you’re not using a cold, wet hand. To make sure your hand isn’t cold and clammy, do a nonchalant wipe on your pants before extending your hand for a firm but friendly grip.
3. Connect Others (AKA be the PLUG)
During networking events pay close attention to what that person does for a living- you might have already met someone who could need their service or in the same industry. Take the opportunity to introduce the two strangers. It is a great way to be remembered and looked at as valuable person worth knowing. (Which lets be honest, you already knew that.)
4. Talk to People!
This is the most difficult part but it does not have to be. Have conversation starting questions in mind. It’s easy to lurk in the corner with your buddy or just hover at the bar.
It’s really as easy as extending your hand and saying “Hi.” You don’t have to begin the interaction with a profound question. Break the ice andwith a simple question. You’ll run into awkward silences but this is okay. It happens when you meet new people.
Be observational. At networking events, people will usually wear name tags that include their company name. Ask about their company. Ask party guests how they know the host or what they think of the music.
If this idea scared you too much, start talking to people that inspire you online. As a member of Empowering Women Now you are immediately connected to a group amazing women from different walks of life.
Click here to find out more: Membership
Keep it Short and Sweet
The object is to work the room—not find a group and hang out with them the entire time. Aim for a maximum of 10-minute stints per interaction/group before you move on.
Quantity over quality at first. Meet as many people as you can. You can go back to the quality interactions later on.
Pro tip: Always remember to be yourself. Faking it till you make it will only take you so far.
As Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”
Recite their name when you meet them. When you use their name next time you see them, you’ll be much more memorable to them.
Close the Sale
This is where the magic happens. Ask for the contact information or meeting. Ask for the date. This is the goal of the entire event, right?!
“Hey, it was great speaking with you, can I get your contact information?”
Simplicity is always the best route.
If you take anything away from this post, make it this:
2. Stand confidently.
3. Just say “hello.”
4. Ask questions about them.
5. Ask for the sale.
This answer is about working a room, but more importantly, it’s about creating relationships with people. As annoying and frustrating as it can be, meeting new people is important to your success.
Pro-activity is a mindset, and it begins with the agreement that we always make the first move and take the initiative to make things happen.