Conferences, conventions, and charity galas are just some of the occasions where networking plays a vital part of the experience. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie, it’s all too easy to stay in your comfort zone. Playing with your smartphone or talking exclusively to prior connections is a waste of a valuable opportunity to further your roster of contacts. If the prospect of introducing yourself to a stranger makes you break into a sweat, look to the following tips for advice.
- Create an Elevator Pitch. Summarize who you are and what you do in 20 seconds or less. Don’t just give a job title, make it interesting and alive! What are you passionate about? What is the gist of what you do? What is your career motto? Distilling this in advance can make you more memorable in people’s eyes. Also, try to add context about why you’re at the event.
- Prepare Your Small Talk. Read a novel, listen to a podcast (we love Intelligence Squared and TED Radio Hour) or watch a movie. It helps if you create a list of books, movies, shows, and plays to check out at the beginning of each month.
- Dress Up. Look the part, and you’ll be on your way towards acting the part. What persona do you want to convey about yourself? Young and bold? Elegant and timeless? Use your clothes to communicate and people will listen without you uttering a sound.
- Strike a Pose. Yes, Madonna had it right. So did psychologist Amy Cuddy, who recommends that you hold a power pose for two minutes every day. Enter the event with all the confidence you can muster and don’t be afraid to fake it till you make it. Remember the Wonder Woman stance, with legs apart and hands on the waist? It’s a great example of what we mean.
- Mind Your Plan. Know your endgame and keep it in mind. Is it to dance till you drop, gather five business cards, or talk to the director of communications? Know why you’re at the event, and remember to stick to your plan.
- Approach Pairs of People. This is easier than approaching groups as pairs are usually more open to meeting new people. Look at their body language, and if it is outward facing, then chances are they would welcome a friendly “hi” from you. Go ahead and introduce yourself.
- Follow Up Within a Few Days. Take the initiative to contact the people you met. You never know if you’ll form a dear friendship, business connection, or find a new travel buddy.
Nezha Boutamine | The Edge Blog