One of the things I am softened asked is: “How can I make networking less intimidating?” This past week I actually found myself in a networking situation where I truly felt uncomfortable. And I realized I was not following some of my own advice I like to give about the topic. That led me to put together a good list of 6 surefire ways to help make networking less intimidating.
1) Do some advance work
One easy way to make sure you are less intimidated is to do a little prep beforehand. Find out who is going to a particular event. It will help you find familiar faces or names. Look at the layout for the event beforehand so you are comfortable with your surrounding.
2) Know s0me current events
Whether it’s the Facebook news feed where people are discussing the latest new of the day, or a trip to your favorite newsstand or new website, have some current event talking points ready to drop in to conversation. Try to stick to the light stuff, like Sports or Lifestyle.
3) Have a few open ended questions ready
One of the worst mistakes in networking is asking questions that elicit a simple one word answer, such as a yes or no. Questions such as, “What do you think about this weather?,” even though they are dated, open conversation. Have a few questions that will elicit talking.
4) Thank the people who brought you
One great way to make sure you connect with people is to connect with the hosts. Hosts often put an event together because they like to connect people. Find them and thank them for having you and they might just put you in front of people and facilitate good connections.
5) Take notes
Whether you use your phone or jot down info on someone’s business card, take notes about how you met someone including the date and a talking point. This can be invaluable in further fostering a new connection.
I know, it seems silly to mention it, but a warm smile while networking often helps people feel comfortable around you and helps you feel more comfortable around people. Practice in the mirror if you need to and consciously remember to drop smiles like they are going out of style.