Babbasa’s six golden rules for successful networking
80% of people land jobs through networking – here’s how to get started
Networking is a useful skill for getting work, growing your business and forming partnerships, but many of us dread the idea of walking into a room full of strangers and making introductions. Knowing what to say as an opening line can cause a knotted stomach and make us head straight for the corner of the room to look at our phones.
So how do you make a start? Here are Babbasa’s top tips for getting the most out of networking events.
- Turn up a few minutes early. This means that the room is a bit emptier, quieter and calmer. When there are only a few other people in the room it’s less tempting to hide, and easier to go and make introductions. If you’re not the type to turn up to the party early, small groups may have already formed by the time you get there. In which case it is as easy as walking up to a group and asking a simple question.
- Getting the conversation going. Don’t wait for someone to approach you, or head straight to the buffet, hoping that you can use food as a conversation starter, like I used to! Instead approach an individual or group you want to speak to and simply ask “Can I join you?” or ask what brings them to the event. Make sure you listen to what they say. If you’re not confident at talking, chances are you’re a great listener. And people like to be listened to.
- It’s not a sales pitch. It’s really tempting to go with an agenda, and that is to promote your product, service or skills. However, people want to work and partner with those whose company they enjoy. Instead of giving the hard sell, keep your conversations light and informal. If someone does ask you what you do, be ready with an easy description, just a sentence. Leave a lasting impression by telling people why you were inspired by a particular organisation, sector or individual. Passion is contagious and makes for a more interesting interaction.
- Look happy. Be happy. People often ask me “what’s wrong?” when I’m not smiling, and I have to tell them it’s just my face! A smile can make all the difference. If you enter the room with a smile and a positive attitude, it makes your more inviting to talk to. This also goes hand in hand with not looking bored when people are answering your questions. Positivity is attractive in a future colleague or business partner!
- It’s not all about you. When you’re nervous it sometimes feels easier to monologue than to have a conversation. But the most successful networkers aren’t the loudest, chattiest people; they’re the ones who make you feel special. Repeat their name, look them in the eye and listen when they’re talking. Be a conversationalist, not a solo act.
- Follow up afterwards. It’s easy to think that you’ve made the connection, got the contact details, job done. Wrong. Meeting someone at a networking event is the start of the conversation. Make sure you ask the best way to keep in touch. Some prefer texts or email; others prefer social media like LinkedIn. Make sure you get in touch within 2 days after the event to show you’re still interested and mention something you spoke about so they remember who you are.