Advertising
Advertising

How to Be the Most Interesting Person at a Networking Event

How to Be the Most Interesting Person at a Networking Event


    I know you can think of a time when you were networking and a very smiley, ambitious attendee came up and shook your hand, eagerly offering their business card and a 20 minute spiel of what they do. No matter what their line of work, you’re instantaneously bored just because of how they started the conversation. That’s because nobody actually enjoys listening to others talk about themselves. Certainly not a long ramble without an invitation.

    Advertising

    But even though you might be annoyed by the idea, can you also remember a time when you were at a similar event and then ended up being that person?

    Maybe it happened because you actually think what you do is interesting to everyone or you were nervous about what you should be doing in that environment and you were just trying to fill conversation.

    Advertising

    But doing this is how you end up further back from where you started.

    When you approach the idea of networking as a ‘do or die’ situation, you’re going to get nothing (especially valuable contacts) out of it. In a world full of social media generated conversation, “building relationships” is one of the biggest buzz phrases — and with good reason. You’re not going to be remembered unless you’ve provided value. And blabbering on and on to grow awareness of what you do professionally and how you can be hired isn’t valuable.

    Advertising

    If you’re going to attend a networking event you should strive to get the most out of it. 

    You need to go above and beyond to be different than everyone else by tailoring the conversation to always benefit others. These steps will help you become the most interesting person in the room (even if you’re an introvert) and grow a strong and valuable network of people:

    Advertising

    1. Be picky about giving out business cards. When someone approaches me with a business card in my hand before I can even introduce myself, they’re already dismissed as someone I would be interested in learning about. You are not more legitimate to me if you printed your information on a fancy piece of paper. You’ve only wasted more trees by giving them to people you don’t know are interested in working with you. Carry only a couple of cards with you at a time and don’t even pull your wallet out to trade until you’ve had a conversation that would lead you to believe there is a possibility to work together or help grow your networks. (Don’t feel bad if you run out. You were just that popular.)
    2. Drop the elevator speech. The idea of having a pitch ready before you even arrive should make you want to gag. Because it will definitely have that effect on your unexpecting audience. You don’t need to recite business goodness to impress. Just feel out the environment and go with the flow. Obviously you’ll be asked what you do for a living because that’s what we have been trained to do in conversation. What will really intrigue is if you take this opportunity to explain how you help people reach their goals. When phrased this way, it makes you sound like a superhero. To give you an example, if you and I met I would say that “I help businesses grow brand awareness and increase sales by teaching and helping create content with social video”. That’s much more interesting than the typical ‘position, title, and opportunities I’m open to’ speech. I’ve shaped my explanation to lead to relevant conversation that will leave an impression on my audience, possibly triggering referrals or perhaps looking at their own needs to see how I can help them.
    3. Don’t talk. Ask questions and then listen. Like I said before, no one likes to hear other people talk about themselves. But they will think you’re the most interesting person in the world if you want to know more about them. So ask questions and listen. Learn about the people you’re networking with and actually build upon a meaningful conversation that will make exchanging business cards more effective in the end. The more you ask about them, the more they will want to know about you for being interested in them.

    What’s your winning strategy for networking events? Share in the comments below!

    (Photo credit: Happy Group of Finger Smileys via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    How to Write Your Way to a Smile How to Be the Most Interesting Person at a Networking Event Top 5 Tools for Impressive (and Easy) Vlogging

    Trending in Communication

    1The Gentle Art of Saying No 217 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things 310 Toxic Persons You Should Just Get Rid Of 4Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts 5Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

    Advertising

    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

    Advertising

    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

    Advertising

    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Advertising

    Read Next