So you finally gathered up the courage to go to a networking event (good for you!). What seems like hours have passed, and you’re still standing between the table of smelly cheese and the table of overly sweet and sour drinks. Well time to buck up and start selling yourself!
Nowadays, life is a constant opportunity to get you closer to success through conversation. And it’s not about being seen: we need to go deeper, engage people in conversation and allow them to connect with us. A true conversationalist knows the key to meeting people, befriending them, teaching them, persuading them, and inspiring them.
Unfortunately, we are not all born conversationalists. Some people say they fear public speaking and networking more than death! But there are some very simple ways to start conversations at these events and promoting your own personal brand.
Here are some tips to get you started!
- Smile. The easiest way to have people approach you is to make them feel welcome and comfortable. A simple smile can be a friendly way to invite someone over to start a conversation. Remember, you need to make people WANT to interact with you! No one wants a Grumpy Gus on their hands.
- Ask Questions. Seems obvious right? Well a lot of the time when people are interviewing or talking about a job opportunity they do a lot of listening to information, instead of asking for it. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Employers and those you are interacting with with appreciate your curiosity and ability to start conversation.
- Know Your Audience. Prior to the event find out who will all be attending. Do your research and see what these people are all about. Yes, I mean pull out Google and type these people in! You will have a lot more confidence approaching people and holding a conversation if you know a little something about who you’re talking to.
- Read Them Like a Book. Try to figure out what the person’s motivations are. If you pay attention to body language and facial expressions it is easy to see if this person is “all business” or not.
- Sell What You Know. You know yourself better than anyone. That gives you a lot to talk about and sell. So don’t try and impress these people about your knowledge of 401k plans when just yesterday you thought a 401K was the world’s longest marathon.
- Let Loose! It’s hard to not feel uptight in your shirt and tie or blazer and skirt; but don’t forget the person underneath those stuffy clothes! Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and stray away from serious work-talk a little bit. For example, you might notice the employer has a Green Bay Packers logo on their portfolio. Ask them if they saw the game last night. “Yeah, maybe we should both leave here and go apply to be referees!” It’s okay to joke around and show some personality!
You’ve got the tools and tips. Now get out there and network, network, network!
Photo by Heather Schwartz