For most people networking events are a point of dread. The thought of “mingling” terrifies so many that often it can lead to all kinds of anxieties or just complete avoidance. I know often times when I have gone to networking events I have to talk myself into talking with strangers, I have to have at least one drink (probably 2 to 3) and if someone I know is there I will cling to them the entire time. Needless to say, my experiences at networking events haven’t been fruitful to my brand or my business.
So for this post, I created a gameplan for myself at these events to help people like me nail a networking event. It's like a coach's playbook to leave fulfilled and proud of myself with maybe a new contact or five or ten!
Let’s be real here. Social lubricant works. It’s legit. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about another name for it would be alcohol. By nature, alcohol relaxes people and lifts their filter. So a quieter person might be able to be more talkative under the influence. This is why alcohol exists. It helps us let go. And while it is not necessary at networking events it certainly can be a big help. If you’re nervous grab a drink at the bar have a few sips to let the edge off and then nurse the rest. Never have more than 2-3 drinks at these things. You don’t want to be that drunk person and you definitely don't want to get sloppy in front of potential connections. A good tip is if you’ve been stuck in a conversation for too long finish your drink and say you’re going to grab another one.
Walking The Walk
Dress for success peeps. Don’t go too far. No suits, but look good. Look successful. That’s part of the play. Get your ass in gear. Go into your wardrobe and make yourself look presentable. Because there may be people at the event who you actually want to associate with, work with, sell to, buy from in the future. Don’t be a slob.
Talking The Talk
I have trouble at these events because it feels like everyone is lying about what they do. And then I think “Do I need to lie too?” “How come everyone here is so much more successful than me? I’m gonna nurse this drink and go home.” First of all, most people are lying. It helps them feel better. Second, who cares if they're successful. Talk to them, be nice to them and maybe the will want to help you. It’s as easy as that. There is no need to lie, but I tend to think networking places can be a place to dress up your successes. This means, don’t focus on the negative parts of your career, what’s not happening or what you’re waiting for etc. But rather focus on those things that have gone right and make them sound good. Why not? Everyone else is doing it. And it’s true! As unsettled as you may feel in your career there is no reason to project that onto everyone else.
Just say "Hey". Literally, so many people are nervous at these events. But just lie and tell yourself you’re brave and walk up and say hello to somebody. Ask them what they do. And if it’s boring say you have to pee. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.
Bring a Business Card
Take your business card. So you can give it to people. So they know how to find you. This one’s simple. Just do it.
Move It Or Lose It!
Don’t spend too long talking to just one person. Five to ten minutes tops. Get to know them, what they do, how can you help them...blah, blah, blah. Exchange cards and move on!
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