Do you struggle to network? Networking events can seem scary and intimidating to many people, but these events can be hugely beneficial to your career or your life in general. If you want to become a better networker, check out these 10 ways to become magnetic at any networking event.
1. Be aware that others are uncomfortable too
If you are feeling nervous about a networking event, try to think about the fact that the people you are about to meet are probably as nervous as you are. Studies show that being shy is very common, with 58% of Americans identifying as shy. Instead of worrying about how shy you feel, acknowledge that everyone is in the same boat.
2. Focus on others rather than yourself
Before you walk into the networking event, shift your perspective. Many people go into social situations wondering how to make themselves comfortable, but one of the easiest ways to relax is to focus on making other people feel comfortable.
3. Prepare yourself
Before you go to an event or meet new people, do your research and prepare yourself. Make sure you know the theme of the event and who might possibly be in attendance. This will help you to personalize your approach, attitude, and outfit – three of the most important parts of networking.
If you are still feeling nervous, prepare a few conversation starters in advance. This will make it easier for you to comfortably approach people, and it also means you will have to do less thinking on the spot.
Studies have shown that it only takes people 34 milliseconds to make a snap judgment about someone, so focus on smiling and looking relaxed. You want the first impression to be a good one.
5. Prepare a short introduction
A good way to get conversation naturally flowing is to pre-prepare a short introduction. Don’t focus on how many seconds it is, instead plan a warm introduction, followed by two statements about yourself. This gives the other person the option to comment on your statements, opening up a natural dialogue.
6. Learn to say “and how about you?”
After introducing yourself and explaining your role, shift the attention onto the person you are talking to. Avoid asking closed questions like “What do you do?” or “Why are you here tonight?” Instead, ask an open question, such as “And how about you?”
This gives the person more opportunity to direct the conversation to an area they are interested in, so they can have an enjoyable conversation rather than a polite one.
7. Find a more interesting way to talk about your job
Many people introduce themselves by stating their name and their job title. However, unless you have a fascinating job, this introduction can actually be a conversation killer – it’s the same thing everyone else starts with. Try to find a more interesting way to talk about your job to help spark a good conversation. Instead of saying that you build homes, say that you put roofs over people’s heads. This will help you to draw interest and create a more genuinely interesting conversation.
8. Read regularly
Reading newspapers, magazines, and books will help you to be a stronger conversationalist, which is beneficial when networking. Being able to discuss current topical events and literature will put you in good stead with most people you talk to, and it means you won’t fall short if the subjects come up.
9. Don’t wait to be approached
Many people are scared of initiating contact – instead of waiting for someone to come over to you, grab the bull by its horns and make the first move. Walk up to a group with your back straight, smile warmly, and make eye contact. Projecting confidence will help you to be more courageous, and it will help the other person feel at ease.
10. Talk To The Person Who Is Alone
The person that is easiest to talk to is always the person standing alone. It is likely they feel shy and awkward, and they will feel grateful to the person who understands that and approaches them. When you make the effort to go over to someone, it projects a friendly and interested attitude, which the other person will be thankful for.
Can you think of any other useful networking tips? Comment your ideas below!