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Quick Guide: How to Network at Networking Events
In my first of three networking articles here on Classy Career Girl, we learned that networking leads to 80% of jobs and how to gain confidence by researching and planning prior to a networking function. It is vital, however, that I share the number one rule to networking – to build and to sustain relationships by genuinely helping others.
Here’s an example for you. When ending a conversation with someone you just met, ask them, “How can I best help you?” Not only do you want to ask this question but you truly do want to assist, and follow-up in any way you can. By being authentic; in return, you will receive authenticity. After all, people do business with people they know, like and trust.
In light of the above, are you still in fear of networking functions?
Don’t worry because below you will learn what to do during networking events, including helpful conversation starters. You’ll also learn how to break free from a conversation, how to remember names, and how to balance your food and drink when trying to give a handshake at the same time!

Quick Guide: How to Network at Networking Events

1. Check appearance first. Check hems, shoes, and remove gum.
2. At registration, place your name tag on the right side. This creates a visual line of sight that correlates to your handshake.  Also, it is a good visual aid for those who struggle remembering names.
3. Social anxiety is real and one’s body can react as though it has completed a cardio exercise. Breathe in and out, and for some, thinking of your power word or a motivating song will empower you.
4. Enter the room, step to the right, and observe who is where (remember those you already put on your goal list to meet). Get your game plan ready in your head.  Also, it never hurts to smile genuinely.
5. This is the time to be bold, authentic and listen. Start meaningful networking with those on your list first. However, if it makes you feel more comfortable, greet those you already know first briefly, including the host or hostess.
6. Refresh yourself on general tips about posture, eye contact and handshaking.
7. The distance between you and others is called proxemics. In America, we like our personal space approximately two feet between each other.  When there is a significant height difference, the shorter individual will benefit from more distance.
8. Always keep your right hand free for shaking hands.
9. The key to small talk is listening and genuinely asking open-ended questions, such as, “What brought you here?”
10. On average, it is best to converse with someone for ten minutes. Ask those you have met, “How best can I help you?”  Have your own strong (well-thought out) answer!
11. If possible, always stand when introduced. In business, introductions are based on power and hierarchy; persons of lesser authority are introduced to persons of greater authority. For example, “Mr./Ms. Greater Authority, I would like to introduce Mr./Ms. Lesser Authority.“  The client always takes precedence.  Including a “connector” facilitates conversation, such as, “You both love golf. Bob is a member of Woodland Country Club.”
12. Remembering names is a sign of respect in relationship building. Put forth extra care and effort.  Repeat the new person’s name at least three times upon initial contact.  If unusual, ask for spelling and if saying you are saying it correctly.  If it is visual, write it out in your head.  Word association helps.  Kindly admit if you have forgotten someone’s name by saying something like, “Of course, I remember you, but your name has slipped my mind. We met last year at John and Alice’s party, right?” or, “Please remind me of your name?”
13. Have your business cards accessible in your business card case. The proper time to exchange business cards is when one is asked for his/her business card. Avoid giving out your business cards like you are a card dealer in Las Vegas. The giver is to present his/her business card to the recipient with the words facing him/her. The recipient is to take the card in her hand and review it for ten seconds as a sign of respect. Place business card(s) in your case. Do not make notes on the card in the presence of the individual.
14. When breaking into an existing conversation, groups of three are ideal. Check their vibe and pace of conversation and listen first to non-verbal communication. Then introduce yourself.
15. Breaking free from a conversation can be awkward. It’s best to state a pleasantry, such as, “It is was so nice meeting you, and I’ll send you that article.” while in the midst of walking away.
16. Limit alcohol to one drink. Due to social anxiety, one alcoholic drink is equivalent to three drinks.
17. Avoid standing in the food or bar area as you are inclined to eat or drink more. Avoid being near the walls and put yourself out there to practice gaining confidence as well as to help others.
18. When it is time for drinking and/or eating, place your beverage and napkin and/or your appetizer plate and napkin in your left hand at waist height due to height differential. There are two ways in which to balance food and drink: 1) stack beverage on top of plate with thumb holding glass/cup with napkin under plate or 2) hold your glass/cup in between your thumb and index finger and plate in your hand with napkin under your plate. At home, practice and determine which is best for you. Once determined, practice, practice, practice.  You will thank me and smile when you have mastered it!  Select manageable finger foods ideally with toothpicks and eat one bite at a time. After each bite, use your napkin.
19. If you haven’t already introduced yourself to the organizer of the event, do so prior to departure, and thank him/her.
By practicing and putting the above guidelines in place during networking events, you will become more confident, genuine, and authentic. Helping others and being authentic allows you to form more substantial connections and to build long-lasting relationships.  Remember, people do business with people they know, like and trust.
Companies are looking for persons who can network effectively and adapt to a variety of social and business situations. Do you need a speaker on “Mastering Your Mingle-Ability: How to Improve Your Networking Skills!”  For more information, email Beverly at info@beverlyrandolph.com.

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