If you are like a lot of people and dread going to professional conferences or events where you know networking will be occurring because you don’t know what to say to complete strangers, consider these three thoughts:
- Newsflash! If you’re in a “networking setting,” it’s okay to go up to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. In fact, it’s encouraged! You’re all there for the same reason: to network.
- If you are attending a networking event, don’t go with a group of friends or colleagues if your goal is to meet new people unless you’re comfortable splitting from your friends during the event. All too often professionals attend networking events with a group of familiars. What usually ends up happening is the group sticks together during the night and creates an intimidating presence for other people at the event.
- Listen up! While you may (and should) have a clear idea of what you are looking to gain by networking, make your interactions about the other person. Listen…ask questions…see if you can help them. That will cause people to like you, and people help people that they like.