Successful networking is a learned skill that is useful in social and individual life. Walking into a room full of people is an opportunity, if you know how to work a room. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet and greet known contacts and connections and an opportunity to make new friends, contacts and connections.
Before the event, develop a plan. As with any plan, set yourself specific goals related to meeting new people, obtaining their contact info, and get to know them. Arm yourself with items that you will need—notepad, pen and professional business cards.
Prepare an introduction speech that briefly covers who you are and what you do. Practice it you have it down. If possible, discover who is invited. Research guests that will attend the event using Linked In, Facebook or his/her blog or Business Website. Identify several current events that can provide a basis for a “break the ice” conversation. Finally, dress appropriately for the event.
When you arrive greet your host and those guests whom you know. They should provide introductions to the guests you don’t know. Approach everyone with a smile and a friendly word. Maintain eye contact and give them an opportunity to speak. If possible, identify things you have in common. Don’t criticize anything, instead maintain a positive manner and use your best business and social manners. Avoid consuming alcohol, it will spoil your game plan. Don’t do anything that might offend—telling offensive jokes or gossiping. Work positively to build relationships with new contacts. Keep doors open for future contacts.
Before leaving, thank your host(s) and compliment the event. Send written thank you notes to the host(s) or sponsors within 24 hours. Send follow-up notes/e-mails to the other guests.
Tomorrow, Conversation Taboos. Rita Bay