Are you one of those people who start getting nervous about the networking meeting your boss wants you to attend as soon as it’s announced?
Well, take a deep breath and follow these simple techniques. First, be enthusiastic and outgoing. Greet others with a smile, making good eye contact as you do. Shaking hands firmly with the contacts you meet sends a loud and clear message that you actually care about the other party.
Next, probe for communalities: are they a sports enthusiast? Did you both major in the same subject? Does each of you have children? Do you belong to the same golf club? You need a reason to connect, and sharing meaningful experiences moves you ever closer to that goal.
Make it a point to use their name in conversation. This will serve two purposes: first, others like to hear their own name, and secondly, by repeating it over, you’re more likely to remember it. However, before you head down the ‘How’re-You-Doing-Jack-track, be sure to ask your contact what he would like to be called. (Maybe he prefers to be called ‘Jacky.’) Courtesy dictates at any rate, that you ask the question.
\With this nicety out of the way, relax and try to enjoy yourself. Remember that the reason you are there is to identify people with whom you can establish a productive relationship. Try to meet as many individuals as you can, without appearing to be too superficial.
Once you’ve made a genuine connection, take the time to follow up with it outside of the networking event. Send them a humorous all-purpose thank you card. Invite them to join you for coffee or lunch. Find a reason to contact them. In short, remember to stay connected.
Building a successful rapport takes time, effort and energy. But once you’ve taken the necessary step, the rest is a lot easier.