1. Build genuine personal connections.
Networking events are a bit like being set up on a blind date, and similar rules apply. Don’t take over the conversation and talk about yourself and your business. People want to feel that you are genuinely interested in them. Ask questions to get to know the other person and understand what they do. As you build a personal connection, potential business opportunities often present themselves
Not only does smiling make it easier for people to connect with you because you are more open and welcoming, it also helps them remember you — and our company. Show real interest in what the other person does and ask questions before talking about us. Your smile and authentic self will go a long way toward a positive first impression
3. Listen when you join a conversation, then show you were listening.
Take a few minutes to listen to the conversation when joining a group of people. An effective way to make a good first impression is to join a conversation with a comment that shows you were listening to the current group of people. Acknowledge a key point to add to the conversation rather than refocusing on you and our work. Nothing will stop a conversation faster.
4. Be yourself.
The best approach for any networking event is to be yourself and talk about the business in a casual, non-salesy way. When discussing the business, always try to share, not sell.
5. Research attendees and come prepared.
The best impressions are the ones that appear effortless. Approaching others too aggressively and not paying proper attention to the people and conversations around you can have a negative effect. Be prepared with questions that help you learn about others, hold mutually interesting conversations and make it easy to share what you want to about yourself or our business when it’s appropriate. (A list of attending businesses for the BAH will be made available early next week for your info)
6. Be curious.
People love to talk about themselves. The key to making a great first impression is to be curious about the other person. Asking a thoughtful question (having done your homework on the attendees first) is a great way to put others at ease and demonstrate your listening skills. The more interested you are in others, the more interesting you become.
7. Learn how you can help each new connection.
Networking is a powerful way to build business connections, but it’s important that your objective in meeting new people isn’t self-serving. Be authentic, ask questions and start every conversation hoping to learn. Something as simple as offering to make a helpful introduction goes a long way in leaving a positive impression and will often lead to long-term relationships
Written by Paul Litwin, Business Manager as Skills Strategies International