If I never attend another networking event in my life, I’d be happy. But modern living (and working) requires meeting people. Why do I hate networking? Is it because…
- I don’t like people? No, I like people.
- I have to make ‘small’ talk? No, I figured out that if you ask a few questions, the other person will start talking and I won’t have to say much.
- I have to enter a room full of strangers and pretend to feel comfortable? Now we’re getting warmer.
Make a Plan, Work the Plan
Ok, so I know I have to go and do it. The plan I have is to:
- Go to the venue and pretend that I’m happy to be there
- Meet 3 people. If after I meet 3 people I want to leave, I can
- Make sure I hand out business cards to those 3 unless it seems inappropriate
- If there’s a pre-event sign up list, I review the list. Is there anyone going to the event that I will know? Is there someone from a company or organization that I would like to meet? If so, I write down the name and go to LinkedIn and look for their photo.
Work the Plan
I’m there, I’m talking to 3 people. Here’s what I have on my mind:
- Practice active listening. Learning to listen – really hear what someone is saying is one of the most important life and business skills in our toolkits. If you learn to really listen to your family and friends; I predict you will find it immensely rewarding.
- See how I can help someone. Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is just to listen. Sometimes, I can help in other ways. Do they know of a job opening? Maybe I know a candidate.
- Learn something. Everyone has something to teach us, if we have an open mind.
Most of the time, I meet someone pleasant and interesting. I find I can offer a something of interest to someone. Bottom line, I have had a much better time than I expected. I’ve attended 100’s of networking events and 95% of the time, it was far better than I anticipated. Either way, ice cream when I get home makes it all worthwhile.
Image credit: Glen and Al