networking

5 ways to suck less at networking events

April 16, 2014
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networking 5 ways to suck less at networking events

Building your network without blowing it

Networking is an essential part of building big business. Although social media has enriched our lives by allowing us to connect across vast distances almost instantly, there is really no better substitute for building in-person connections and powerful relationships than face to face in-person networking.

As long as you’re going to events to build your network, here are some helpful tips over how to be more effective with your in-person networking efforts.

bar 5 ways to suck less at networking events

1. Pick the right group to network in.

Although there are many networking events available it can be challenging to figure out which ones are useful for you to go to. Select a networking event that has lots of high quality people you want to meet already attending. Facebook, yelp, twitter, LinkedIn, eventbrite.com, all have events happening every day. Some of these events you can see how many people are attending and what kind of people are attending.



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Save yourself some time and go to events that look like they have a good crowd that you would find benefit in meeting. If you select an event where you’re unable to see the attendees you are taking a risk that the event may be hyped up by a marketing team and unable to deliver the value you’re really looking for.

2. Help others.

Many people attend networking events looking for something. When they find what they are looking for, whether it’s a business referral, a new connection, or the answer to a challenge they are facing in their business, they appreciate and remember people that helped accelerate their progress in the challenges they face. Make sure to figure out quickly what other people are looking for and search your resources for that.

They will more than likely return the favor many times over when you least suspect it at a later time. One key aspect to receiving a return is maintaining your relationship to that person so they at least remember you.

3. Introduce people to others.

Lots of people attend networking events for the primary purpose of meeting other people. I know that I’ve figured out that I usually meet about six quality connections per networking event. I meet less people because I feel spending quality time with people is important to me and it helps build stronger relationships.

If you introduce a person to another, you accelerate the amount of people they are meeting in a shorter period of time, which is usually a good thing. If you introduce a few people to others around the event, soon you will develop a reputation that night as the person who you have to meet.

Others will start introducing you to key people they meet and this greatly accelerates the quality of people that you will meet that night.

4. Chat about family.

Sometimes conversation gets a bit stale. The key to developing friendship and business relationships is to find commonalities as quickly as possible. Most people have families. More importantly most people are fond of their families and enjoy talking about them.

So if you occasionally hit an area where the conversation is about to drift off and become boring because you don’t know what to chat about next, bring up the subject of family such as, do you have any kids? Do you go on any vacations and maybe bring your family ever?

If the person you’re talking to says yes, then bring up and share similar stories of your own and it will quickly help you seem like you’re old friends. Your new connection will enjoy talking about subjects that interest them and after they’ve decided they like you, you can then switch the conversation to business.

5. To get over anxiety, focus the conversation on others.

Not all of us are social butterflies. It can be intimating going to a crowd of strangers and talking to all of them. Sometimes all you have to do is think about good questions that focus on other people and the the conversation develops itself from there. You can ask questions about your new connection, about their life, or why are they there at this networking event?

You can also make comments or ask their opinions even about the environment such as, do you know if this event always gets this packed? What kinds of people do you think usually attend these events? Keep the conversation going with good questions and the relationship will take care of itself.

Matthew Winters is the owner of Austin Visuals 3D Animation Studio , a Full-Service 2D & 3D animation studio, advertising agency, and video production studio. As one of Austin's movers and shakers, he also founded Speed Friending Events which produces networking mixers and social events in over 14 cities nationally. Matthew is dedicated to providing solutions to social and technology related issues in the industry.