It’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference.
What do you look out for in conferences? I have been on both the receiving end and the giving side for years now and there is one thing that comes out clear for me personally – the Networking effect. I thought let me take this opportunity to talk out what are my perspectives to events and what we need to be aware when attending conferences in the future especially from Networking perspective. As an attendee the conferences are filled with boring moments and monotonous small talks back-to-back. Only the speaker has the luxury to make it exciting or put you to sleep – now trust me, try to put your kid to sleep and it is such a tough job. Last thing as a speaker you don’t want to work hard to put 100+ people to sleep in one sitting :).
Now let us get back to my top things to keep in mind while in these sessions / events. These are my top 5 -
Be ready to Give, Getting (is a byproduct)
Don’t get into a pressure of forcing yourself into networking and don’t focus on meeting a closed group of people. By enforcing this, you will miss out on all the fun that happens around the event and the new friends you can make. So the deal is simple, be there to share and learn from others too. Once you are into this mode of exploring and helping, you will see having a great time yourself and developing great new leads which you never imagined before.
Critical to understand – you shouldn’t look like you are desperate. There is always a fine line to be with-in and open. You don’t want to send a message that your agenda is out there to get something out of the interaction always. Don’t turn-off people – people are smart to see where a conversation leads.
Keep it simple and Open Conversations
Be a person of simple words with asking questions or delivering the answers too. Especially at social events be mentally prepared for your typical questions like – “What are you up to these days?”. This can be ice-breakers and avoid any jargon filled complex sentences. Keep it short, sweet and most importantly interesting :).
As much as possible if you want to get away from the monotony of these pre-thought questions – just divert the question in the next direction by asking a question back. Ask like – “what do you think of XYZ?” or “Why do you feel ABC is inevitable?” etc. These open questions can open up others and now you are about to “get” the most interesting answer and these are perspectives you want to not miss out.
It’s all about people. It’s about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges – Mike Davidson
Meet and greet everyone
Never look over anyone’s shoulder ever and more so at a social event. It is the last thing you don’t want to be remembered for. Don’t write off the opportunity coming your way. This world works via word-of-mouth and every bit helps. Appreciate each person you meet, don’t dismiss anyone, and don’t try to scan the room while talking to someone. This is a time for meeting new people and making new connections, to see if there is someone you can help or who can maybe help you.
Dos and Don’t
- Know your limits while Drinking – One or two social drinks are fine. But you don’t want to miss the opportunity – where business is the need and answers need to be sharp, crisp and clear. And alcohol is surely not helping you in that cause. You want to portray yourself as someone others want to work with, not necessarily drink with.
- Taking your business cards – This seems pretty obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t have any on them when it comes time to exchange the cards. And make sure you make some note of the business card with the context. Keep a pen handy always !!!
- Be on the move – It’s way too easy to get stuck talking to one person for a long time. If you really go well with someone and want to talk more: exchange business cards and get in touch at a later date and then excuse yourself to speak to someone else. You want to make sure that you make as many conversations as possible before you leave.
- Get socially connected – In this world of facebooks, twitter etc, don’t miss the opportunity to share, care and connect online.
“Privacy is dead, and social media hold the smoking gun” – Pete Cashmore, Mashable CEO
Don’t forget to Follow up
At any networking event, you’ll shake tons of hands and collect a loads of business cards. If you meet someone that you’d like to speak with further, don’t wait for them to contact you. Take the initiative and make the first move.
It’s something you have to learn through trial and error. And the only way to improve is to just get out there and do it. Attend events, attend client meetings – be part of it and win it one step at a time. The main deal here is to conquer yourself first.
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This entry was posted on Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 09:28 and is filed under Personal, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.