Fall Back On These Networking Tips

In a social economy, it's more important than ever to get and stay connected .
As marketers, virtual networking is embedded in our daily lives. We grow followers; connect with others, and identify industry leaders to follow. But how much time do we spend improving our in-person networking skills?

Wait.

In-person networking?

Face to face with people?

Attending a networking event can be a little scary for some of us, especially if you’re more comfortable with online networking than a room full of strangers. Networking events can leave us feeling nervous, a bit shy and a little like we’re falling. So we’ve pulled together a few tips that you can fall back on at your next networking event. Why not give them a shot at AMA|Rochester’s Old Fashioned Networking on September 16th? We’re pretty confident that you won’t fall down when you follow these great tips!

Register Early

Let’s face it, we’re all procrastinators. We love to wait until the last minute to register. We also love to make excuses why we can’t attend.
  • We’re too busy.
  • We never meet anyone.
  • We’re not good at networking.
  • We’re not really looking for a job.
In the end, if you register early, put the event on your calendar and even share it on your social media, you’re much more likely to actually attend the event. It’s kind of like having an accountability partner when going to the gym – you’re more likely to go when you’ve got someone counting on you to be there!

Be Approachable

A friendly smile is a great start.  It shows that you are approachable and welcoming. But don’t be creepy; avoid long, intense stares.

Make the First Move   

A simple “hello” and a handshake is a natural way to start a conversation. Start by saying something like, “My name is Jerry and I help business build strong brands.” Then ask the other person, “What is your area of expertise?” or “What brings you to this event?”

Mention a Mutual Contact   

If you notice on a name tag that the other person works for a company where you know someone, reference that person. “Do you know Sandy Hayes?  I think she also works at your company.”  This “social proof” can open up an entire conversation. But, please, only say nice things about that mutual contact.

Ask an Open-Ended Question   

A smart question gives the other person a chance to talk about him or herself, or share information on a topic that they are knowledgeable about.  Perhaps, you could ask about a new product that was just released. Or ask how they like the new notepad they are carrying.  Then focus on what they say and ask genuine follow-up questions.

Stay Current   

Read news and industry websites to stay current. Being unaware of hot news can put you in an awkward spot.  Keeping a healthy knowledge of new trends and industry news can help you launch conversations.

Be Genuine

The secret to any interaction is to be genuine and respectful.  Try being interested rather than interesting.  Don’t rush the relationship or ask for favors too soon. Test drive the tips above to launch a conversation and build rapport.  Over time, this might just lead to a professional relationship.  You will never know unless you work past your reluctance and go for broke with these networking icebreakers!

Feeling confident? Then register now for AMA | Rochester’s networking event on September 16th. Get details and register to attend here. You can look for me and try out your new skills!
Pieces of this article originally appeared on AMA.org, the members-only site of the American Marketing Association. For more information on how to join this vibrant and growing community, take a look at www.jointheama.org.