How to Effectively Network at Events - 7 Crucial Tips
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
I recently delivered a speech and conducted a half day seminar/training at 2 separate, unconventional (but beautiful) locations, like the lovely compound in this photo. Quite often, my clients would request that I kept their identities confidential - which I absolutely respect and agree to. During these 2 events I shared about how to effectively interact with others at networking functions.(both professional and social) There are lots of information and literature out there on the internet for us to consume, but with my international background, corporate experience and years of studying and observing human interactions I have a few important tips to share with you:
1) Never speak too fast, it reeks of nervousness and potentially hurts the message you are trying to convey. This can be attained through practice.
2) Many people feel that a "strong" handshake is crucial, which I agree with, but NOT too hard or vigorous. It can be uncomfortable for the other party, and will seem too pushy. A firm, warm handshake is the goal.
3) Never ever start your conversation with: "So, what do you do?" We are NOT entirely defined by our occupations or positions in life, even though it can be a significant part of our identity. While it is absolutely fine to ask as your conversation continues, it should never be your first question posed to someone, and it should be asked in a more palatable way.
4) When we are chatting with one person, sometimes others may also step into your conversation - uninvited. It is not the most ideal situation, but learn to accommodate that by being welcoming to that third or fourth party. (As to interrupting someone abruptly at an event - that is another separate topic all by itself - which I also address in the Image/Communication courses I offer)
5) When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, be FULLY engaged. when your eyes dart around the room while you are in a conversation with another person, that is not only unbecoming or rude, it can also be hurtful to some. It is understandable to want to connect with as many as possible during these functions, but my professional advice is to focus on that party you are having a conversation with, then politely end that conversation at an appropriate juncture and start a different conversation with someone else. Of course this transition takes practice and requires great finesse - but it can be learned and mastered.
6) Have you met people at events, irregardless of their professional or social standing, tend to hoard a conversation? (and impatient to speak) Don't be that person. Practice the art of active listening (yes this is truly an ART), respond and say something of value (don't babble on and on) to add to the conversation, or just be supportive in a warm silence.
7) Never forget to thank the host - whether it is a professional or a social function. This is basic manners but you will be surprised how many people forget or do not make the effort to do so.
There are many more tips I would like to share with you as I did with my clients at these 2 most recent group coaching sessions, but these are the 7 vital ones I want to first bring to the forefront. I hope you find them helpful!