Networking, 6 degrees of separation – Tips & Tricks

I love meeting people, the more diverse the crowd the better – fresh ideas, interesting conversations….

Networking is a great way to meet people, not just strictly for the game of collecting business cards. I believe in “six degrees of separation” and the assumption that people know people. So, even if I am talking to someone that is not connected to the marketing., communications and creative industry, I am certain that he/she will know of someone that is (e.g. friend, neighbour, family,…etc).  As a head hunter, I am in the business of knowing and connecting with people.

Also, attending events to network is a fabulous way to unwind and relax with a drink in hand under the pretense that it is for “work”!

To be a successfully networker attending events around town, here are some points to consider:

  • What is your aim – what can I get out of this personally and professionally? Pick events that are relevant or presentation topics that you are interested in. If you didn’t meet anyone interesting in that event, you might learn something new from the topic that was presented. Some networking events are nothing more than dating events for professionals. Been (accidentally of course) to a few of those. Dump them off the list (especially when you cannot score a date).
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • What’s the topic/ event?
  • What does the event/ organisation promote – who are the organisers?
  • Do I already know people who are going?
  • Is it worth participating from an ROI point of view – do the costs (monetary and time) outweigh the benefit?
  • Can your business/company benefit from you attending this event?
  • Are there strategic alliance/ sponsorship opportunities?
  • Who are the major sponsors?
  • Can I bring someone from the office that maybe more relevant, or a client?
  • Will there be a million other competitors there?
  • How will I take advantage of this opportunity to build my business and create valuable professional relationships?

‘HOW TO” GUIDE…

On the day…

Remember to bring:

  • Business cards
  • Pen
  • Small notepad
  • A smile
  • Leave unnecessary luggage eg. gym bag at home or in the office, you want to be mobile.
  • More business cards
  • Mints for fresh breath! Bad breath is a no..no.

TIP: According to networking EXPERTS, you almost always shake with your right hand drawing the left shoulder away when you shake and hence advocate wear your nametag on the right side. Pinning the nametag on the right side will be clearer for prospective clients/ contacts to see. Personally, I think name tags are lame. Get to know people first.

TIP: Don’t be too eager to give your business card out as soon as you meet someone like we do in our client meetings. Business cards should be exchanged after a rapport has been developed – shows that you’re genuinely interested in them. Once you receive a business card don’t just shove it inside your pocket or business card holder. Be respectful. Study it intently. Name, Title, Company. Then match it to their face. Ask questions if something on their card begs your interest. That way you don’t need name tags (see above lame comment).

TIP: If you are going with other work colleagues, don’t congregate or sit together. Spread out, you will cover more ground that way. You can exchange notes on who you met later. Only wolves hunt in packs.

If there is a presentation in the event…

Listen, take notes, think of some interesting points that you would like to know more about for question time.

After the presentation..

Ask a question – get  yourself noticed, build your credibility but only if you can come up with a smart or interesting question during Q&A. People will remember and will serve as a great icebreaker at the mingling session after the presentation. The reverse is true though, if you ask a silly question, you will look like a fool.

Other Tips To Be the Sexiest Networker in the Room

  • Stay sober but carry a drink in hand (alcoholic or non alcoholic), don’t come across as boring, stick in the mud.
  • Look charming – smile, be eager to listen. Be confident and relaxed. Don’t be too eager to get business cards, just get to know people.
  • If you don’t know anyone in the event, go to people that are seemingly not part of an established group. They will be thankful for the conversation. Establish your own group before moving on.
  • Be interesting. Prepare a few jokes (that are appropriate for the event “hey, did you hear the one about the Marketing Director, Communications Manager and the Creative Director….” …harr harr), read up on the news (e.g. war, election, economy, celebrity gossip). If you have inside info about the presentation topic , even better, makes you sound like the subject matter guru.
  • If you are stuck with someone REALLY boring. The polite way to get yourself out of that situation is to introduce Mr Boring to someone else. “Hey you really need to meet Mr Equally Boring….”. Make the match, chat for a minute, then nonchalantly slide away. If that doesn’t work, simply mumble “hmmm…interesting” then turn around and move on. Life is simply too short.
  • More mints (I might have mentioned earlier).
  • Contribute. If you find an event that is relevant to you and you really enjoy it then volunteer to help the organising committee. It will raised your profile with the attendees/members and it feels good to give back and not just be a leech.

Have fun networking! I would love to hear tips and tricks on your own experiences.

Photo courtesy from The Simpsons

 

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