Some people love it, some people hate it. The truth is, it probably makes everyone a little uncomfortable or even a little nervous. But we all, no matter what the profession, need to network! It is essential for building relationships, new business, and even new ideas!
1.) How To Introduce Yourself. Introducing yourself poorly can stop a conversation before it even begins. First, always make sure to make direct eye contact with whomever your speaking to, give a firm handshake, and speak up. Make sure to pronounce your full name (first and last) clearly. Use the Dale Carnegie pause-part-punch technique. This a great way to get people to remember your name. The pause-part-punch technique goes like this:
Step 1, pause, right before your about to say your name. For example, "My name is" PAUSE... Lauren Hess.
Step 2, part, your first name and last name. "Lauren" (part) "Hess". We often say our names very quickly and run our first and last names together.
Step 3, punch, out your last name. We often tend to drift off when we're almost done a word or sentence but on the contrary, volume and energy level need to go up.
When you put the pause-part-punch technique together, it should sound like this. My name is, (pause) Lauren (part) HESS (punch).
Secondly, do not introduce yourself just by your name and job title but rather what you do for others. What service, function, resource do you provide for others? For example, my job title is "Director of Social Media for bloom daily planners". So instead of merely introducing myself like this, "Hi, my name is Lauren Hess. I am the Director of Social Media for bloom daily planners." I can say, "Hi, my name is Lauren Hess. I use bloom's social media platforms to help engage our bloom customers and inspire and empower our followers."
2.) Focus on Learning Something New. We don't know it all- there is always something new to learn! Instead of dreading a certain networking event or function, retrain your brain to think "what is something new I can learn from this event?" Who knows—it could be interesting! Sometimes when you least expect it, you have a conversation that brings up new ideas and leads to new experiences and opportunities. Focus on what you can learn from others.
3.) Identify Common Interests. Think about how your interests and goals align with those of people you meet and how that can help you forge meaningful working relationships! Meeting and working with others that share your values and ideals increase the energy in professional relationships.
4.) Ask Deeper Questions. A lot of times, networking events can seem mundane and stale. You've probably left a networking event in the past feeling like you just had the same conversation with 20 different people. You probably feel this way because you're having surface level conversations. Try asking deeper questions! Just like how we talked about in Tip #1 about going deeper with your WHY and not just your title/job, try doing this with your questions as well. Going deeper with your questions will push you into better conversations and build more meaningful relationships. Here are some example "deeper questions" that you can start with:
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
What is something you would like to tell yourself 5 years ago?
What is a book or key piece of learning that has helped shape you/your business?
What keeps you motivated?
Is there anything you wish you would've done differently?
If you could do another job that's different from the one you have now, what would you do?
Do you have any advice for me?
It may feel a little strange at first asking these deeper questions but we promise, it is worth it! By asking these questions, or some like it, you will get to know each other better and feel like you're having a more meaningful conversation.
5.) Think About What You Can Give Back to Others
It feels good to share your knowledge and experience with others! Before you go to an event or even before you begin a conversation with someone, think about the expertise you can provide. When you start thinking more about what you can give to others than what you can get from them, networking will seem less self-promotional and more selfless—and therefore more worthy of your time.
6.) How To Exit a Conversation
Knowing how to exit a conversation is an important skill to have. Whether you find yourself in a conversation that is awkward, not worthy of your time, or if time is tight, knowing how to end a conversation politely and professionally will come in handy!
At networking events, conversations are happening back to back, so when ending a conversation, try to recap what you talked about with the other person to show that you were listening. This will also help you remember what you talked about.
Exchanging contact information can be a good way to find a break in a conversation or even help one end one if you need to. Another way to end a conversation is by asking permission to pause (or end) your conversation and agreeing to another time to pick it back up.
Another option is to politely apologize to whon you're speaking with and excuse yourself. This would sound something like, "I apologize we didn't have more time to talk but I need to excuse myself. It was great speaking with you!" Or "Excuse me, I see someone else I need to speak with, I'm sorry to be so abrupt. It was nice to meet you!"
7.) The Follow Up.
Following up with who you met at an event is crucial. During the event, make sure to take notes about the people you met and spoke with. If you get a business card from someone, try writing down a few key points about the person or what you talked about to help you recall your conversation after the event is over. We recommend keeping a small journal and pen with you.
Make sure to use social media after an event as well for people that you want to continue a relationship with. Some appropriate ways to do this are: adding the person on LinkedIn and sending them a message, sending an email, and even sending a message to the person/company through the company's social media accounts.
This should be a personalized message thanking them for the time they spent with you, a recap of what you talked about, and any follow-up items should you wish to continue a conversation or meet with that person later on. This will show the other person that you were listening, shows respect for their time, and will keep you top of mind (if you're hoping to land an interview or meeting) and help the relationship build.
Download this FREE Networking Worksheet, HERE!
We hope you found these tips useful and that you can use them to your advantage at your next networking event!
the bloom team