I’m an extroverted introvert. I can force myself into social networking situations but the reality is it comes with a lot of sweaty palms and anxiety and I would rather be at home reading a book.
As a businesswoman and a recruiter, my role revolves around meeting people and networking. One-on-one connections I’m fine with - no worries! But when it comes to networking at large events, I’ve developed a ‘toolbox’ to help me.
Here’s what’s in the box:
Put your confidence hat on!
It’s the same one you’d bring out for an interview. This is your secret superpower. When the hat is on, you smile, breathe and talk kindly to yourself (this sounds a bit fuzzy but it’s important - I’ve been at functions before and talked myself out of networking, so be your own best supporter).
Forget about splashing your name and card around the room.
And forget about working the room. A great attitude to have when you go to these things should be if you can meet two or three people and make a good connection with them, then that’s a success! This takes some pressure off you but also allows you the time and energy to invest in a meaningful conversation with someone.
Focus on other people, not yourself.
The book “How To Win And Influence People” covers this really well. Be the person who is curious about what others are doing, be positive. Ask good questions (have a think about these before you go in if that helps you).
Be front footed!
While my preference is to hide in a corner - it’s important to get in amongst it and quickly. Look for a lonely soul and go and say hi. People will remember that you helped them in their own moment of awkwardness.
Don’t judge people.
That awkward person you might overlook because they don’t seem cool could actually be the most important person for you in the room. You could meet some amazing people that you wouldn’t get in front of usually, so be open-minded and treat everyone as equal.
Don’t hog someone for the whole function!
After you’ve made the connection, it’s perfectly okay to say something like: “George, it’s been great to meet you and hear about your company - I know you probably want to meet with other people, so I will let you go - but I would really appreciate keeping in touch.”
Once you’ve met someone - thank them for their time.
Exchange cards and say if you are able to help in any way, you’d like that.
When all else fails and if you are struggling - I always think about how good I’ll feel in a few hours time when the networking is over. Perspective is good and the reality is once an opportunity to meet someone has passed, you don’t get it back again.
What are your coping mechanisms at social events?
Need to meet with some good accounting, finance, and banking recruiters? Contact our team today to have a chat about your career. We promise we won’t force you to network. Just highly recommend it.