Networking meetings can feel like a waste of time if you don’t have a good strategy. If you are going to take the time and effort to go to a meeting, you want to maximize the benefits. Here are three easy ideas to help you make the most of the networking at the event.
- Go with the mindset to meet and talk with several people. If you are spending your time and perhaps your money to go to a networking meeting, you might as well get some good benefits from it. Don’t aim to talk with every person in the room. That just feels overwhelming and sets you up for frustration and disappointment. Aim to meet and talk with three to seven people, depending on the amount of time available.
- Aim to take a few minutes with each person to get acquainted. Ask them about themselves. You can ask about what they do, or where they are from, or how they found out about the meeting. These are easy questions to get a conversation started. You can go a step further and ask if there are other networking meetings they enjoy attending, what is the best thing that happened to them that day, or what project they are working on that is most exciting and energizing to them at this time. All of these are open-ended questions that invite the other person to answer with more than just a word or two. All of them will help you to get to know them a little bit better.
- Another great strategy is to go with the intention to be helpful to other people. This could include looking around the room to see if there is someone who looks like they might be new. Go over and say “Hello” to them and perhaps introduce them to another person or two. Of, if you arrive early, ask the host or the organizer if there is anything you can help with. This is always appreciated and it gives you a way to contribute as well as to meet them.
- Take business cards with you and ask each person you meet for one of their cards. Ask if you can give them one of yours as well. Most people will be gracious and exchange cards if you ask. If they don’t have a card with them, ask them to write their contact information on the back of one of your cards. Bring extra cards with you for this purpose and be ready to offer a pen if they need one. Then, draw a line through the front of that card, to help you remember to not accidentally give it to someone else later.
These are some easy strategies that can help you meet people when you are in any networking situation. For some additional tips about what to do before you go to the meeting, check out my other article on this topic.
What are your favorite strategies that help you develop relationships and feel comfortable when you are networking? I’d love for you to add your comments or questions about this in the comments area below.