Networking: some get a kick out of doing it, some completely and utterly dread it. No matter how you feel about striking up conversation with a total stranger, networking is an essential skill that applies far beyond the boundaries of marketers. In fact, making strong connections can help you expand your network and get ahead in your career, no matter what profession you choose.
My perspective on networking lies in between the two extremes: I don’t dislike it, and I don’t particularly enjoy it. It’s certainly easier when you have an interesting topic to open with – thanks to the Raptors’ recent historic win, Torontonians have been gifted with an easy opening line that we can all get behind quickly and enthusiastically.
So when I had the opportunity to learn how to be a better networker, I jumped at the opportunity. Trina Boos, President at Boost Agents, shared some helpful tips to work a room and make the experience as rewarding as possible:
- Do your homework: Being prepared never hurts! You should know what event you’re attending, the subject matter at hand and a bit about the keynote speaker beforehand. Also, researching some of the attendees and knowing (and using) the event hashtag can take your preparedness to the next level.
- Network alone: Leave your friends at home and your colleagues at work. Networking can be most rewarding (and a little less stressful) when you do it unaccompanied. This allows you to have your personality shine through.
- Ask questions: Close-ended, open-ended, food-related, outfit-related, situational… Get creative with your questions and steer away from talking business. Taking this approach makes others feel more comfortable in conversation and can lead to making genuine connections.
- Take notes: During the presentation, jot down stand-out points to reference afterwards, but also, during the networking portion, take a few seconds to record a few notes on the person you’ve just met: their name, a fun fact about them, or a common interest you share.
- Work the room: Try not to speak to one person for too long. It’s easy to get “trapped” in a conversation, but there are ways to bow out – politely – by mentioning you’d like to go speak to the keynote or that you are grabbing a drink at the bar.