24 Jun Creating Your Place at a Networking Function – Here Are Some Tips
While it may be tempting to put off networking functions in favor of your day-to-day work, you could miss out on meeting important people and making potential connections to boost your career long-term.
One of the most common reasons given for avoiding networking functions is the anxiety and nerves associated with attending large gatherings with a lot of people that you don’t know. However, this becomes less intimidating over time and with practice, so long as you focus on the following goals:
Have Short But Meaningful Conversations
Aim to have 2-5 meaningful conversations. Don’t linger too long with any one person. If you truly feel a connection with someone, you can always arrange an in-depth follow-up at a later time. On the other hand, don’t brush anyone off too quickly.
Be sure to extend common courtesy to everyone you encounter. If you don’t really connect with what they do, you might be able to introduce them to someone else who does.
Strike a balance between being polite and also following the 80/20 rule: focusing 80% of your attention on the 20% of people who will most likely be your best future links.
Collect Cards, Take Notes, and Follow Up
Be sure to write down any important takeaways right away while your mind is fresh, and set a date and time with yourself to follow up. Following up shows your initiative, as well as your organization.
It should go without saying, but more than just courtesy, you should offer to be of service rather than “selling yourself.” Think about what might excite certain people, what they might need, and how you might be able to help them. Even if you can’t help them now, you may be able to in the future. Extending that attitude will always come back to help you.
While you may find large gatherings with lots of people intimidating at first, the more you attend them, the better you’ll get at feeling comfortable in that context.
Practice sharing something personal about yourself and be sure to listen actively to others. Ask open-ended, probing questions and be open yourself. You never know who you might meet and what connections they might have. But be patient—networking takes time and effort before you see a long-term payoff.
Focus Your Attention
Be sure to know and practice explaining your unique selling proposition (USP) in different ways that allow you to seamlessly blend it into conversations. While you are not selling yourself, you want to remain focused on who you are and what you have to offer others when the opportunity arises.
In the meantime, view networking events as opportunities for your own personal growth, as well as the chance to build new relationships with people who could become future business partners.
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