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5 Steps To Conquer Any Networking Event

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5 Steps To Conquer Any Networking Event

    Let’s say you’re single, lonely, and desperate for a date. That, of course, isn’t actually the case so you’ll need to use your imagination for a moment. Now imagine that you’ve been invited on a group date with the promise that you’ll definitely hit it off with someone special. The organizer isn’t really sure about that but a match seems likely because more than 500 single, lonely, and fairly desperate people will also be on the group date. It sounds like a sure thing, right?

    Wrong.

    When faced with so much opportunity, your first instinct will be to hunker down with a few friendly faces and wait for the end of the evening. Instead of making something amazing happen, you’ll take the safe route. Unfortunately, the safe route often means you go home alone with a story about the one that got away.

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    Unfortunately, most conferences and networking events end just like that. Now what if I told you there was a different way? What if I told you that, continuing the group date example, I could show you how to do background checks on all the attendees and see what they look like in the buff before ever stepping into the same room? You’d be interested, of course!

    While I won’t tell you how to find compromising photos of everyone attending your next networking event, I’ll give you something just as valuable. Here are five steps you can implement and build upon to make the most of your next networking event:

    1. Establish Event-Specific Goals

    Walking into a networking event or conference without a plan is, barring a miracle, a waste of your time. Without a plan you’ll bounce from event to event and float toward the people you already know. But not this time! This time you’re going to establish real goals for what you’ll get from a specific event.

    For example, a small business owner might attend a local meetup of social media types hoping to expand her network with some web-savvy marketers. Instead of saying, “this meetup will give me the chance to make business contacts” she’ll have a specific outcome in mind and won’t waste time on the wrong people.

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    2. Identify & Research Targets

    Now that you’ve established goals for your event experience, it’s time to do some legwork and figure out who will help you reach those goals. Most conferences and meetups have a list of attendees published in a public space, usually online. Smaller events might just have an Eventbrite homepage while big conferences will often maintain a separate list. Many events use hashtags on Twitter so people attending the event can connect beforehand and during the event. Do you see where all this is going?

    The idea is to identify as many event attendees as possible and extract a group of people you most want to connect with. Once you have a list of people attending the event, weed your list based on how certain people could possibly help you reach your goals for the event. If you want to connect with web developers, you’ll not have florists or fishing coaches on your list.

    Once you’ve identified the people you think are worth pursuing at a glance, it’s time to do some research. This might seem tedious and boring, but it’s needed if you want to really get the most of your event. While most of the attendees will stroll into the event with a devil-may-care attitude, you’ll have a short list of targets whose blogs you’ve read, tweets you’ve followed, and major interests you’ve identified. You have a definite advantage!

    3. Use An Event Card

    An event card is exactly like an old school dance card. But instead of scheduling dances with pretty people, you’ll be marking off successful connections with your targets. The simplest version is a plain list of names. That’ll work if you have an amazing memory and ability to place lots of new names with faces. But most of us aren’t so gifted.

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    I prefer to make small cards that include a name, photo, major interests, a thought I had after reading one of my target’s recent blog posts, and a few people also at the event I think they’d enjoy meeting. Putting the time into researching a contact before meeting them has never, ever turned out to be a waste of time for me. It’s an act of faith that has always returned far more than I invested.

    If you want to really do things nicely, add your target contact’s image and information to a special contacts list on your smart phone. That way, when you do get contact information from your new friend, you won’t have to enter anything but their number or email address. If they ask you about why you had their information programmed into your phone already, just tell them you’re a big fan and had planned on meeting them. After all, you are and you did! =)

    4. Establish Your Presence

    There are a few things you should keep in mind as you work to establish your presence as a worthwhile connection to your targets:

    • Whenever you have the chance, show your target that you are somebody worth knowing. If your research revealed that one of your intended contacts has chatted online with another contact, try to be the one to introduce them to each other. (It only takes a moment or two to figure out who your target likes to chat with on a site like Twitter but hasn’t met yet.)
    • As with romantic relationships, dinner is a bigger deal than drinks or a quick chat. If you get the chance to join a prime target for a meal, do it!
    • Try to get contact information for your target that may not be immediately available online. A lot of people have email addresses they give out online or use to sign up for new services. You don’t want that one. You want the one they actually check. Barring a good email address, a friend request via Facebook will usually do just as well. People throw all their personal info there and you’ll have no trouble getting in touch with them!

    When in doubt, friendly conversation and a real effort to listen will at least save you from being labeled as obnoxious!

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    5. Follow Up

    It doesn’t matter how much research you do or how well you woo your targets if you fail to follow up with them after the event! A good rule is to make sure you’ve contacted your targets within 3 days of meeting. Calling is probably too much unless you really hit it off and have already agreed to meet up. Otherwise, a brief email saying hello and reminding your target of the interesting conversation you had, etc. should do the trick.

    Once your target responds, you’re set to continue your relationship and eventually enjoy the fruits of your networking labors! A bit of planning, some basic research, and the will to follow through are the only things standing between you and a robust network of interesting people!

    How could I be such a cold-hearted monster and turn a gathering of wonderful people into a game of numbers and value exchanges? In practice, I don’t always. But just as it’s easier to explain the workings of an automobile engine once it’s been removed from the car, social networking is best explained in unadulterated terms.

    Do you have any questions or a tip of your own to add?

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    Seth Simonds

    Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on November 18, 2021

    10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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    10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

    We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

    A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

    So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

    • honest
    • reliable
    • competent
    • kind and compassionate
    • capable of taking the blame
    • able to persevere
    • modest and humble
    • pacific and can control anger.

    The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

    1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

    All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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    But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

    2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

    How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

    I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

    “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

    Abigail Van Buren

    3. How does this person take the blame?

    Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

    4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

    You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

    5. Read their emails.

    Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

    • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
    • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
    • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
    • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
    • Too many question marks can show anger
    • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

    6. Watch out for the show offs.

    Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

    7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

    A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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    Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

    8. Their empathy score is high.

    Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

    People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

    9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

    We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

    “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

    Stendhal

     10. Avoid toxic people.

    These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

    • Envy or jealousy
    • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
    • Complaining about their own lack of success
    • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
    • Obsession with themselves and their problems

    Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

    Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

    Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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