Networking Event Tips Make a Lasting Impression in Under 5 Minutes
Networking and industry events are key opportunities to build professional relationships that will be instrumental in your career journey. While you know making a good impression is crucial, you may find yourself asking, "So how do I accomplish that at a networking event?" The answer is simple: meaningful and thoughtful conversation.
Whether you are looking for job opportunities, business partnerships, or other ways to advance your career goals, it is important to take this approach as to avoid the far too many one-sided pitches punctuated with a business card... which is more than likely to end up in the trash.
Here are 13 tips suggested by the Young Entrepreneur Council that will guide you towards such an approach:
1. Ask a thoughtful question.
Ask something that will get a unique conversation started. Instead of "What do you do?" ask, "What do you hope to take away from this event?" Or ask them what they think of a new idea you have. People remember having an interesting conversation.
Most people launch right into their pitch or chitchat. You'll make a more positive, memorable impression if you allow the other person to speak first or if you pose an open question and then listen attentively to the answer. The more the other person talks, the better a conversation partner you're perceived to be.
3. Ask what you can do to help.
When meeting someone new, a great strategy is to quickly get a sense of what he or she does, and then immediately look for ways to help that person. Ask, "Can I make an introduction to so-and-so?" or "Would it be helpful if I connected you with X?" Far too many people look at networking as a way to get things. By approaching it as a way to give, you'll forge great relationships with tons of amazing people while paying it forward.
4. Give them a reason to remember you.
I find that one of the most important things you can do during the first five minutes of meeting someone is give them something to remember you by. At a business event, they may meet many individuals, but when you make a strong and memorable first impression, your new acquaintance will remember you the next time you reach out.
5. Focus on quality, not quantity.
Show genuine interest in the conversation. Write the event name on their business card, then follow up within 24 hours. Go for quality of connections rather than the quantity of business cards you collect by the end of the night. Business cards aren't going to get clients at the end of the day, but connections and strong relationships will.
6. Remember their name and story.
Business events are an excellent way to grow your professional network by meeting in person with other professionals. You never know who you will meet and how you two may work together in the future. I have met some incredible people at events; folks who have been extremely instrumental in my success.
7. Clearly define what you do best.
Have your elevator pitch ready to roll. Try to make it interesting and deliver it with passion. Be proud and excited about what you do and make the message clear and one that will stick with them.
8. Tell a story.
Be authentic and tell a story. Stories are the best way to create a metaphor and allow other people to understand the type of thinker that you are.
9. Smile and make eye contact.
People make judgments within the first seven seconds or so of meeting you, and that's statistically around the point at which they start tuning out if you don't engage them. Smiling at them and making sincere eye contact shows them that you're warm and interested in speaking with them. These tiny gestures will set the stage for you to engage in a meaningful conversation.
10. Say their name.
Say their name. Everyone likes to hear the sound of their own name and it helps you form a connection. That, matched with solid eye contact and a firm handshake, creates a positive first impression.
11. Send an intro email on the spot.
In such a technologically-oriented era, business cards may not always be as effective. Instead of simply offering your business card, pull out your phone and ask them to enter their email address. After that, send them a quick intro email and boom! You're connected. While it's a little awkward in person, it has exponentially increased the amount of follow-ups professionals receive after meeting contacts for the first time.
12. Talk about your passions.
Tell them about your passions and ask them about theirs. This can be as simple as saying "So what is it you're passionate about?" after the typical "here's what I do" back and forth. This tends to catch people off guard in a good way, and allows them to either wax poetic about the aspect of the work they love, or something outside their work to which you may have a connection. Either way, it helps build the relationship.
13. Compliment them.
Make sure that your appearance and demeanor radiate health and energy. Be genuinely interested in the people you meet; ask them questions about themselves and try to find something on which to compliment them.