Tip of the Iceberg – Diving into Networking

Before declaring that I’m done holding up walls the other day in my post on networking, I’d known I wasn’t the only one who felt awkward at networking events, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the number of people who  reached out to share their stories, or to pass on additional tips. The post quickly became the most popular post I’ve done. Apparently, I had only seen the tip of what was truly a massive number of people with cold, clammy hands clenched behind their backs as they leaned up against walls at these events, or hovered uncertainly near the buffet table.

In addition to posting the blog piece here, I began several conversations on Brazen Careerist and Twitter on the subject, that also elicited a number of great ideas and tips. So I wanted to take a chance to share their pointers:

From ChaChanna Simpson: Pretend your the host of the event, and it’s your duty to introduce yourself to everyone. “I usually find a group and say, ‘I’m breaking into this conversation.’ People usually say it’s fine and then the conversation goes from there.”

Paula Duarte agreed – “The best advice I ever received was to pretend I’m the hostess. When I’m in charge, I try to greet all my guests, hook up people with similar interests–I’m just too busy to get self-conscious!”

If that seems beyond you (and I’m not sure I’d be able to be that bold), try this tip from Neille Hoffman: stand by the door and smile at each person as they enter – “often times they will think you are the host and will strike up a conversation with you!”

From Scott Rafferty: Keep a drink in your hand–”not necessarily booze to relax, but as a tool to keep confident body language.” It gives you something to do with your hands, and creates a casual posture, that’s inviting to others. Body language is a huge part of successfully networking.

Dawn Lennon says to leverage social media to your advantage. “Social media is a great way to inquire about who is attending a certain event,” then, she says, you can set up meetings with some of them; since you’ve already chatted online, it makes that initial conversation less awkward. Further, you can tell them why you’re attending the event and what you hope to get out of it – a backhanded way of asking for their help.

Kary Delaria also believes in using social media to help. “I use Twitter to send a head’s up that I’ll be at the event and looking for people to talk to. More often than not, starting the conversation online eliminates the uncomfortable ice-breaker in person.”

In contrast to my tip to find someone who looks awkward, Christina recommended looking for someone who just seemed approachable and friendly. “I used to go to networking events, identify someone who looked interesting and approachable. I would count to three in my head and then jump into a conversation. After a few times of doing this I found it much easier to get conversations started.”

Patty K finds it helpful to rehearse beforehand; she pre-plans her answers to basic questions like “What do you do?” and thinks up a few questions to ask other people – along with answers to those questions, since people often ask them right back. “I find when I’m at the event, my anxiety interferes with my thinking, so this helps me through those awkward first few minutes.”

I’ll also be working on a piece about networking  for igrad, a website that shares “tools tips and advice for graduates going from being a college student to a career and life.” When that’s up (and it will include several new tips!) I’ll be sure to mention it and add it to my portfolio.

Any more tips? Leave them in the comments!

Related Posts with Thumbnails