Make the Most of Being “In the Room” – Part 3

To take full advantage of attending networking events, make the most of the time you have to connect with others. Since my recent posts have covered what to do when you are “in the room,” here are my tips on what not to do:

Don’t feel compelled to hand out as many business cards as you can. It’s not a competition to collect the most cards. Rather, concentrate on building relationships. It is better to meet fewer people who you will remember rather than more people who you will forget. Think quality, not quantity.

Don’t talk about yourself non-stop. There is nothing more tiring than someone who drones on and on about their wonderful self. Focus on the other person, not yourself. You will keep them engaged, and they will look forward to seeing you at future events.

Don’t wait for people to approach you…approach them first.  This puts you in charge of the conversation. When it is time for you to move on, you simply thank them for their time and move on.

Don’t talk to the same person throughout the evening. You don’t want to monopolize one person’s time. Give that person the freedom to mix and mingle with other people.

Don’t scan the room for other people to talk to while you’re talking with another person. You will make the person you are with feel unimportant. Remain focused on the conversation and then break free to talk with other people.

Don’t spend a lot of time with people you already know, unless you have something specific you want to discuss or you want to spend a few minutes touching base.

When you approach networking in a strategic way, you will get the most out the experience and so will others.

Make the Most of Being “In the Room” – Part 2

As a continuation of last week’s post on what to do when you attend a networking event, here are my remaining tips:

Peruse who is in the room. If there is someone specific you want to meet or reconnect with, approach that person first. That way, you invest the time up front with the person or people you want to connect with the most.

Challenge yourself to meet several people you don’t know. Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. When you open yourself up to it, you will  usually make some great connections. This approach keeps it interesting for you.

Attend meetings and events by yourself. You will remain flexible and not have to rely on others. If you do attend an event with a colleague, agree to split up to meet some new people, and then come back together later in the event.

Practice the art of breaking away. Use several conversation break-away’s, such as, “It’s been great meeting you. I’m going to meet a few more people before the program begins.” Or “Excuse me. I need to freshen my beverage.”

Smile! There is nothing more inviting to another person, especially someone you don’t know, than a smile. People will gravitate towards you.

Stand. Never sit. It allows you the freedom to move throughout the room. Sit only when it’s time to start the meal, if there is one, or when the program begins. If seating is not assigned, select your seat, place the napkin over the chair to indicate the seat is taken, and move back to the mingling area.

Now that I have shared some networking favorites from my “Do” list, I will share favorites from my “Don’t” list in my next posting.


When Networking, Make the Most of Being “In the Room”

Certain public and private events put you in contact with people who you want to meet. It’s called being “in the room.” Networking events allow you to connect with people you don’t know or to reconnect with people you already know. There are many do’s and don’ts to networking. Here are a few simple “Do” tips that will help you maximize the time you have to network most effectively:

Purposefully enter the room. Bring a positive mindset with you. Otherwise, you will wander aimlessly into the room as if you don’t belong there. You are in the right room so own it!

Peruse who is in the room. If there is someone specific you want to meet or reconnect with, approach that person first.

Be prepared. Know where your business cards are (easy to retrieve).

Think of conversation starters. Scan the top news headlines before you go to the event; know what’s going on in your community and in the world. If you know someone specific will be attending the event, make sure you know what’s happening in his/her company or industry.

Bloom where you are planted. Every room as four areas to network: Near the entrance to the room, near the food, at the bar, and at the chilling area, where people stand or sit together for more intimate, relaxing conversations. These high-traffic areas are where most people congregate.

I will add five more “Do’s” to this list in my next posting.


A Peer Group is a Prized Possession

Your peer group is one of your most valuable and prized possessions. Yet it is often under-appreciated. Could it be that we are taught from elementary school to compete with each other? I can honestly say that I would not be half the professional person I am today if it were not for my peers who helped me. One of the fastest ways to shorten any learning curve is to look to your peers for advice, guidance and assistance. You may be surprised how willing they are to share their knowledge.

A few years ago, I received a call from a young woman who was referred by a mutual colleague. She wanted advice on how she could reach people and let them know about her new business venture. I recommended several professional organizations to her. Based on my positive experiences, I mentioned how valuable peer support groups are and how generous people are with their time. There was a long silence and then she said, “Why would I want to spend time with my competitors?” Her comment stunned me. I couldn’t believe how short sighted she was. I explained the value that peers bring to your career. She was not interested in my philosophy. Oh well. I tried.

In what ways are you tapping into the knowledge of your peers? And how often do you share your knowledge with them?