The 3 Keys to Network like a Natural
Attending a business event with a few friends, colleagues, or going solo? It’s key to be self-aware and aware of your surroundings. When going to an event with a group of people you know, remind yourself to split up. The group should be like a home base, not taking away from key networking opportunities.
Once you have an idea of whom you’d like to approach (viewing company/name tags), it can be challenging to initiate a conversation with someone you know little or nothing about.
1. Awareness // Self & Others
Ideally locate someone who is alone, or within a group but isn’t currently engaged in dialogue. Once you introduce yourself, it might be tempting to dominate the conversation, as you may fear any kind of awkward silence.
So you begin pitching, quickly exchanging business cards, and then saying “it was nice meeting you.” The networking might feel like a success as you begin running out of your business cards, while collecting cards of others. But keep this in mind - The business card you hand out, along with the one you get back in return, is only as strong as the conversation.
Pay attention to discussion dynamics:
Are you doing all the talking?
What's your body language saying about you?
Did you ask any open-ended questions that allow the other person to shine?
Is the other person looking around the room or maintaining eye-contact?
The feeling of fearlessness conquers any other competing emotion(s), such as doubt and or anticipation. Remember that you’re just having a conversation, put any other motive aside. The motive of selling your product or service can get in the way of being real, and that motive can cause you to doubt and or anticipate your next move. When you’re fearless and real, the conversation naturally flows and you’re top of mind after the event.
3. Going Social
Within 24 hours, when the conversation and relation are still fresh, add the new contacts to LinkedIn. Personalize the connection request message, don’t keep the default note. And if you’re feeling like really making an impression, move beyond a LinkedIn add, follow them on Instagram and if you see a recent post that engages you, reply or like.