When was the last time you went to a function where people were networking? Maybe it was a company going-away party for a colleague, or perhaps a convention. Were you one of those people pressing the flesh and moving effortlessly to chat with others? Or were you like the vast majority and didn't quite know where to begin?
If you're not networking, you're missing opportunities to connect, strengthen existing relationships and build new ones. Here's a few tips you can use to allow you to mix and mingle like a pro:
THINK STRATEGICALLY. Before you attend an event, think about who you would LIKE to meet and speak with and why? What is it that you would like to say to them and why would they be interested (what's in it for them?). You may have specific names of people, or just the "type" of person you want to meet, e.g., someone from company XYZ.
CONTACT PEOPLE IN ADVANCE. It's often possible to connect with people in advance of a function. Sometimes, through word of mouth and by asking your colleagues, you can find out who's attending and get in touch with them. Your meet-up plan can be as casual as "we'll see you at the conference", or as formal as setting a meeting time and place.
APPROACH PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW. Take a risk, randomly go over to someone you don't know and spark up a conversation. But how? Ask a few key questions as conversation openers. Focus on what you two would have in common -- the venue and the event. You could ask open ended questions such as, "What made you decide to attend this conference? What do you hope to get out of it? Or if it's a private function, ask him or her how they know the host/s.
If you have great stories about mixing and mingling, let me know. I'd love to hear what techniques you've used, or how the ones above help. Now get out there to that next event and put these strategies to use. Go mix and mingle with confidence. And remember to bring lots of biz cards, you'll need them!
Until next time, here's to ...
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
© 2010 Marion Grobb Finkelstein
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