Even in today's digital society where so much networking takes place online, there are those instances when you have to physically attend networking events. And when you attend networking events, sometimes interacting with others can make you feel like anything but a boss. Some of the challenges you face include but are not limited to trying to find something interesting to say, looking for genuine ways to make newcomers feel welcomed, and finding somewhere to sit down because your feet are killing you! Just kidding ...
When you are networking, you are making a presentation. And no matter your industry or your position, you are an ambassador for your company and, most importantly, for yourself. In this post, you will know how to effortlessly engage with others at networking events with utmost confidence even if you absolutely DREAD small-talk or even if you love small-talk and want some new tactics for making your conversations even more interesting. You will know how to look and sound like an amBOSSador.
1. Compliment and Transition (C&T)
This approach works well if you like to make others feel good about themselves.
I started doing this when I began traveling a lot for work and meeting people for the first time in person. I wanted to start my presentations on a good foot, but it got hard trying to think of what to say. It finally struck me to come up with a compliment. It would be "I've seen some meeting rooms, and I've seen some meeting rooms. And let me tell you. This is a great meeting room!" Or I'd compliment the campus, the city, the people ... how gorgeous it was, how energetic it seemed, how nice they were ...
And who doesn't love a compliment? But the challenge comes when you want to ensure you don't sound creepy or strange, which can be the case with personal compliments. Additionally, so many people do not know how to receive compliments. Think about it. How many times has someone complimented you on something, and your response is "Oh? This old thing?!" or "Oh! You should have seen the place 10 minutes before you arrived!"
So here's what to do: After you give the compliment, immediately follow-up with a question or statement that takes the focus away from your praise.
For example, "This is a great-looking place! ... How are you enjoying this Phoenix weather?!"
"Your outfit is incredible! ... What brought you to this location?"
2. What + How
This approach works well if want to ensure you do not dominate the conversation, and you want to get the other person talking.
Instead of asking only facts with questions that begin with "what," follow-up with "how." For example, "What college did you attend?" will garner a simple answer, the name of the college. So follow-up with "How did you settle on that school?" And with the follow-up, ensure you sound interested or intrigued. Otherwise, the follow-up could come out sounding judgmental.
Avoid following-up with "why" because it can put people on the defense. For instance, if you ask someone what college he/she attended, he/she responds and it's a lesser-known college, then to follow-up with "Why did you go there?" can sound rather judgmental or even abrasive. (See more of what not to say at this post.)
3. Once Upon a Time ...
This approach works well if you want to take the spotlight off you and place as much attention as you can on the other person and his/her ideas.
Avoid asking closed-ended question - questions that can be answered with just one or two words. Ask questions that invite a store.
Instead of "What line of work are you in?" try "What's your story?"
Instead of, " "How was your weekend?" ask "What was the best part of your weekend?"
Instead of "Where are you from?" consider "What is one of the funniest things that happened to you in your hometown?"
4. Honesty is the Best Policy
This approach is great for those who are comfortable with putting their true feelings out there for the universe.
Oftentimes at networking events, we sacrifice expressing our true thoughts and feelings in the interest of being polite or politically correct. However, there is something fun, refreshing, and even charming when, in some moments, we are brave enough to be completely honest. So for all of my brave ones, try these at your next networking event:
"I'm not incredibly talkative, but I love to listen to others."
"Is it just me, or does it seem like networking gets harder and harder?"
"I really wanted to stay home and eat an ice cream sundae, but I really don't need to ingest one more calorie!" (And this one requires a lot of bravery ... but if nothing else, you'll get the other person to laugh! And is that not the best medicine?)
What's your favorite networking technique? Share it as well as your business's web address in a comment below!
Are you a professional woman who makes presentations as part of your job or as part of your business? Did you ever wish you could get personal and helpful guidance on improving your presentation skills? Get on the phone with me for a complimentary presentation skills analysis. It will involve only about 20 minutes of your time, and you will learn how to start making your presentations amazing once and for all! Schedule your call here. It’ll be the best 20 minutes you’ve ever spent working on your presentation skills. I guarantee it!
Photograph credit: Pixabay