Five Tips to Make Your Networking More Enjoyable
By: Roger Kahn
Are you bored at networking events? Are you uninterested even by the idea of attending? Do you think they are a “waste of time”? If so, you are likely going about networking the wrong way with the wrong mindset. Done effectively, networking can be an extremely powerful weapon in your business development arsenal. With the right approach, networking will yield positive results while relieving boredom and bringing satisfaction.
Here are five suggestions that might make your networking experiences more enjoyable and fruitful
1. Expect a positive experience
In my experience I’ve found that an expectation will often predetermine the outcome. If you go into a networking event and “expect” it to be unpleasant, it probably will be. However, if you approach the same event with an optimistic attitude, the event will be much more enjoyable.
2. Arrive early
There are few things worse than showing up to an event in full swing, where everyone is already engaged in conversation and focused on the people already in the room. Inserting yourself into this situation is not only rude but also unproductive. Make a point of arriving early, before everyone else even, and you’ll have a perfect opportunity to chat with the organizers and greet incoming networkers. You’ll be the focus of attention for a little while until others walk in.
3. Create a plan of action
Having a plan of action and goal for the event will help to ensure that your time is well spent. Do you know who will be in attendance? Are there specific individuals you want to meet? Have you prepared your networking introduction so that you sound professional and confident? A concerted strategy for who to meet, what to say, and how to connect after the event is critical to your success. As the saying goes, You have one chance to make a good first impression.
4. Know how to disengage
Another pitfall of networking events is speaking with only one person for a lengthy amount of time with no exit. Be wary of those that “hold you hostage” and consume precious networking minutes with others. Be prepared to disengage when the time is right. The easiest and most polite way is to say, “It’s been great chatting and I look forward to speaking with you again, however I don’t want either of us to miss the opportunity to meet other people as well.” Shake their hand, smile and for certain they will get the hint.
5. Wear comfortable clothes
This may sound silly, but at networking events, comfort is king. These events force you to stand for extended periods, often at the end of a long workday, sometimes in close quarters. Being uncomfortable in clothes that don’t fit will not put you in the right mindset to network effectively. Dress for battle – err, networking!
Remember that by engaging in networking you are investing in yourself. As with most investments, noticeable and substantial returns may take awhile. Be patient and you should be able to reap the rewards over time.