Networking and other corporate events and expos are great places to start networking and build a list of career contacts. These types of events are a goldmine for people who are just starting to climb the corporate ladder.
By its nature, networking is a practice that is used to meet new people who may be useful business or personal contacts in the future. The blind dates of the corporate world, these events provide an opportunity for connection, as long as the participants are sincere in their pursuit of it.
Contrary to popular belief, you won’t necessarily meet more people if you stand at the entrance of the venue where the networking event is being held. Even if it has been proven that we forge better connections when we break bread with someone else, having to manoeuvre a plate while trying to shake someone else’s hand can prove a challenge.
One of the best spots to stand when you are looking to meet new people is where people exit after they’ve gotten a drink at the bar. It creates a comfortable atmosphere when people meet with their beverage in hand, ready to make casual conversation.
Meeting people for the first time can be awkward, and making small talk isn’t always the easiest thing. However, you can use your body language to convey that you are truly listening to what the other person is saying.
Being attentive when meeting new people creates a sense of shared experience and connection, and you can easily show that you are paying attention by tilting your head slightly as you listen. Try to keep your posture relaxed and don’t tense up, even if you are feeling nervous. This will put the person you are talking to at ease, too.
Remember to take along some business cards that you can give to the people you network with so they can make contact again after the event. To reduce the time you take looking for a business card, start using a system.
Save your right jacket pocket (or a separate area in your purse) for your own business cards, and leave your left pocket (or another space in your purse) for the business cards of people you meet at the event. That way, you won’t have to rummage around as you greet your new contacts.
First impressions last, and an impressive handshake is the first way to cement yourself into someone else’s memory. Have a look at what behavioural scientist and author Vanessa Van Edwards advises as you practice this professional greeting.
As uncomfortable as many people may feel about meeting strange new people for the first time, a warm demeanour is your best ally when you attend events where you will be networking. The easiest way to create a welcoming atmosphere is to smile to people as you meet them. They’ll perceive you as warm, and will remember you for it.