I wrote a blog last week called Hank Blank’s Networking Tips for Those Who Hate to Network. I published it on Memorial Day and got the most readers on a single day for any of my blogs. I must have addressed a need. Or maybe, people had nothing to do on Memorial Day!
Even though networking has exploded since the Great Recession, it made me realize that many people still don’t like networking. Here are some more tips on how to be an effective networker even if you hate to network. These are tips for people who will be networking alone which can be overwhelming initially, but is the ideal way to meet people.
First, arrive early. You will be the native at the event. Everybody will have to talk to you because there aren’t a lot of people to talk to. When an event isn’t overcrowded it can be less intimidating for some.
When you get to the event early, check out if name tags are put out. Read them to see if there is somebody you know, attendees from companies you are familiar with or attendees from companies you want to be connected with and learn more about.
Stand near the bar. That’s the second point of entry for a networking event. After registration, this is where there is always a crowd and people start to engage. It is a perfect place to be, it’s like being around the net in hockey. Sorry, that’s the Canadian in me!
Wear something interesting and original. You don’t have to be a fashionista, just wear a unique item to generate comments and engagement.
Here are some easy dialogue questions you can ask to get engagement with the folks you meet.
So what do you do?
Why do you come to this event?
What does your company do?
What are your drinking?
What other networking groups do you attend?
Share the networking groups you like attending as well.
As the conversation progresses, and you exchange business cards, write down a couple of words on their card. Such as items that are important to them; the vacation they just took, their interests, their kids, where they went to school. What touches their souls?
Provide affirmation in your discussions. We all like honest affirmation in these times. Remember to be genuine and heartfelt. Networking isn’t a sales process, it is about engaging with a person which is a great gift for us all. This first encounter may also be the start of a lifetime journey.
People often ask me how to approach two people who are engaged in a conversation, I call it breaking in. First, wait and listen then, smile. A smile is a magnet that always turns heads towards your way. If you have been listening to what they have been discussing you have an easy platform to allow yourself to enter the conversation.
People also ask me how to break away from somebody they have met? They feel they can’t abandon somebody, don’t feel that burden because that person came to network too. You can say things like, “nature calls,” or “going to get another drink or appetizer.” It’s not really a big deal.
You can download Hank’s Networking CD’s by visiting his site at http://www.hankblank.com
You can connect with Hank on Linkedin
Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank
Watch his videos on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/MrHankblank