You’ve arrived at the latest networking event. You have your name tag. You have your drink. You’re looking sharp. Now what?
If you arrived at the event with someone else, you shouldn’t be standing around talking to that person all night. You’re there to make new connections.
#32: Don’t be afraid to smile, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. This is why you’re here: to meet people.
Trick: If you don’t know anyone, stand in the food or bar line. This way, you’ll always have at least two people to talk to: the one in front of you and the one behind you.
#33: Don’t interrupt a conversation. Not only will this create a poor first impression, but everything you say after that will be received at a deficit. Instead, stand close, and when a pause presents itself, ease into the conversation gracefully.
#34: You have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately. It’s about them, not you. Ask about them and show a sincere interest. “They don’t care what you have to say, until they know that you care.” —Zig Ziglar
#35: Ask smart questions. Listen and learn. Prepare several qualifying questions before going to a networking event. If you find a prospect, qualify him before arranging a follow-up.
#36: When it’s your turn to talk, be brief but succinct and powerful. You must be able to present your case in sixty seconds or less. This may include who you are, what you do, what benefits you offer customers, and why you are better than the competition.
#37: Be enthusiastic and positive. People don’t want to hear you complain about your day, your boss, or your lot in life. (Save that for your spouse, therapist, or best friend.) People enjoy working with positive people.
Remember: Your goal at a networking event is to meet as many people as possible, qualify them, and arrange appropriate follow-up. Sell yourself first, and then your products and services.