Today we have tips to help you expand your network by Classy Career Girl reader, Maranda Gibson. Maranda is the head writer for AccuConference, a conference call company located in Fort Worth, Texas. Maranda gives advice on public speaking, leadership, and all things communications at her blog, AccuConference Blog.
I’m still pretty young in the business world – at the age of (almost) 28, there are a lot of things that I have yet to do. I’m still learning about so many things – writing, business, and everything in between. As an introvert, networking events can sometimes overwhelm me. The thought of saying the wrong thing or looking like a fool can sometimes hold me back from reaching out and making great connections. It’s approaching a person that intimidates me.
Considering how much I tweet, for both myself and my company, I would think I’d be great at networking events, but many times I’m not. I’ve been going to more conferences and local events lately, and I’ve learned a few things about myself and how I can reach out to more people.
Here are a few tips I have learned about how to network at networking events:
- Find a conference buddy. If you can reach out and make just one connection at an event, you’d be surprised how much easier that can make things. You’ll have a person to sit with during lunch breaks and someone to wave hello to at the mixers. It’s not necessary to follow this person around the entire event, but once you can prove yourself and make one connection, I’ve found that the others follow right behind.
- Look for common interests. Are you currently stalking the cheesecake tray with another person? Spy someone reading a book that you also enjoy on break? Curiously watching someone play Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds? Ask them what their high score is or their favorite level? If commenting on a book, tell them what a great read it is (but don’t spoil the ending). You can find ways to break the ice with people and that way you can start getting to know them on a business platform.
- Smile. This one is pretty simple – if you’re hiding against the wall, scowling with your arms crossed over your chest, you’re not making yourself look very approachable or friendly. Smile and look as casual as you can and it’s like an open door for someone to walk up to you and start the conversation.
- Follow the Twitter stream. Most events or conferences will have a hashtag that will allow you to send tweets that will be grouped together with the other attendees. If you see a Tweet that you really like, retweet it and send the person a reply to let them know you thought it was a great observation. If you’re introverted like me, sometimes it helps to break the ice within the safety of social media.
Now I’m not saying these will work all of the time, much of how well you do at a networking event depends on what your mindset is when you arrive. If you have the feeling that you’re going to meet people and have a great time, then in my opinion you will.
What are your tips for someone new to networking?
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