Are you getting the most out of every networking event?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job SearchNetworking
I just got back from an Executives Network Happy Hour in San Francisco. It was really great! What made it so great was the interesting conversation. Conversation that only benefited those in the room. And that got me thinking. How many conversations are you missing because you’re not in the room?
Here’s the thing:
Being in the room makes you step up your game. If you’re sitting at home, hanging out online – sending emails – and “networking” electronically, it’s real easy to get lazy. To let your professionalism slide just a bit. After all, the dog doesn’t care if you ever change out of your pajamas. But stepping out into the world (and I mean physically) gives you the opportunity have the personal interaction that humans so desperately need. If there’s one thing our society is losing – it’s the personal, face-to-face, one-on-one interaction. The kind where you can practice your conversational skills, test your ability to listen, read the non-verbal cues, take conversations to new directions, and see how interested AND interesting you and your peers really are.
Getting out there will force you to bring your “A” game. Step up your professionalism. Give you the opportunity to become a better conversationalist.
And if you’re going to actually attend something, make a commitment to be there. And I mean really be there. How many conversations are you missing because you stop by – just for a few minutes?
Forget about LIFO and FIFO. You know, Last In First Out and First In First Out. This works great when dealing with inventory, but when it comes to networking, try practicing a new method. It’s called FILO. First In Last Out. Go early. Stay late. If you’re going to attend an event, you might as well take full advantage it. Maximize your opportunity to meet as many people as you can – have as many interesting conversations as possible. If you’re only there for an hour, you might have three 20-minute conversations. But what if you stayed an extra hour? Maybe you could meet twice as many people and have twice as many interesting conversations.
Don’t forget about the impressions you’re giving.
If you’re wearing your Bluetooth headset, take it off prior to walking in. It makes you look preoccupied. It makes it look like you’re just waiting for some random call to rescue you. Plus, that blue blinking light is REALLY distracting.
If you’re negative, you’re not interesting. Be happy, be positive. Be excited about the possibility that you might meet someone new, learn something fascinating about them, have something in common. Jobs come and go. Friendships can last forever.
If you’re always talking about work or the fact that you’re out of work, you’re really kind of boring. I used to be in an industry – where, at every event, everyone talked about the same thing. The industry. They always asked the same intro question: “How’s business?” One of two answers work for that question. Good or bad. Once you got that out of the way, there just wasn’t much left to talk about. The events were painful.
Focus on getting to know someone personally…where they’re from, what they like to do, things they’re involved in. Start building a relationship…and see where it goes. You might even make a new friend!
So get out there. Bring your “A” game. Engage in interesting, meaningful conversation. Ask smart questions. Make new friends. And stop letting the conversations go on without you!