How do you feel when you get an invitation to a networking event? Do you RSVP immediately and think about how many new business contacts you’ll be making or do you reject it and stick to LinkedIn to meet and connect with people?
Typically we are not used to having face to face conversations with complete strangers. Even the most extrovert people can sometimes find it hard to enter a room where they don’t know anyone and strike up a conversation which therefore makes the prospect of attending an event quite stressful.
However, they don’t have to be so challenging, anyone can make networking more enjoyable and more successful by getting out of their comfort zone and following some, or all, of these tips:
Be prepared and plan a few ice-breakers. Always take some time to do a bit of research before your networking event – it’s a sure way to put yourself at ease. Try to find out who will attend and look up on LinkedIn those people you would like to meet. Prepare some ice-breakers and/or questions you would like to ask them but be ready to talk about your background as well.
Go to as many networking events as possible. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect! The more you network, the easier it gets. Perhaps start by engaging more with your work colleagues, go for lunch with them and make sure you attend the social events your company hosts. This will help you become more comfortable in social situations.
Listen and be inquisitive. Shy and introvert people tend to be better at listening. This is a great quality to have so make the most of it and listen twice as much as you talk. You’ll show respect and stand out as someone who values other people’s opinions. Make sure you ask follow-up questions but try not to let the other person(s) do all of the talking. Your interlocutor(s) will most definitely be impressed.
Follow up and maintain relationships. Follow-up with those you managed to have meaningful conversations with. Connect with them on LinkedIn or simply email them to say how much you enjoyed meeting and talking to them. Don’t overthink it, just do it! Most people will be glad to hear from you.
Be kind to yourself. Even though networking events can be considered nerve wrecking, people still attend them in vast numbers to meet and speak to a wide range of other people. Research shows that 30% of people are introverts, and 50% of the population has some form of anxiety around networking so, you most definitely won’t be the only one feeling uncomfortable. Therefore, be understanding and patient with yourself!
Networking is all about meeting new people and building supportive relationships. It is a really beneficial activity and valuable way to learn from the success of others and to help your business flourish. It may be intimidating in the beginning but give it a try!
Throughout the year, Investigo hosts different type of events which cover all sorts of topics for professionals across Accountancy and Finance, Audit, Risk and Compliance, Business Change and Transformation, Data and Analytics, Human Resources and Talent Management, Procurement, Property and Facilities Management, SAP and Strategy. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay updated on all our upcoming events.