How to Connect, Four More Ways
by Dean Lindsay, author of The Progress Challenge & Cracking the Networking CODE, Chief Marketing Officer – Synclab Media
- Study the tags.
Though I have not tried this myself, Rachel Wood, a top financial advisor in the Boston area who introduced herself to me after one of my seminars on networking, does something pretty neato. If she spots a nametag on the registration table of someone she would like to meet, she asks the people manning the table if she can clip a note to their tag saying she would like to meet them. She swears by it.
By the way: Leave your ego there at the registration desk. The first positive impression is the most important, and lays the groundwork for all future impressions. You want to make sure you are making a good one.
- Circle and scan.
Before diving into the event, try circling the room and checking out the nametags for people or companies you definitely want to make contact with while there.
- Look for people standing alone.
These folks may be nervous, and your initiative will often endear you to them. Plus, one-on-one networking is the best networking. It is hard to join a group unless invited.
- Sit between people you do not know well.
If the event is a sit-down affair, do not sit by a friend or business associate. You already know that person! You might be sitting there a while, so make sure you are going to be sitting by someone you can form a new relationship with. Plan who you want to sit by, but wait until the last minute to actually sit down so you can keep making new contacts.
- Hang out at the food table.
I know it sounds like I’m joking, but people tend to be easily accessible around food. Stand near the food table, but not the bar. People tend to grab their drinks and move away from the bar, but are more likely to linger near the grub.
As people check out the buffet table, small talk comes more easily. “That Danish looks good…” is as good an opener as any. Once they have their hands full, people often look for a flat surface where they can place their plate and beverage. Take a spot next to them and get to chatting.
Check this out. Our endorphin levels are higher when we are close to food, which boosts our memory and the chance that we will remember and be remembered. We humans are a trip, aren’t we?
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” — JRR Tolkien
Do not go to networking functions hungry.
Eat before you go so you can focus on the person, not the cantaloupe. If you are hungry, grab a quick bite off to the side, and then mingle. Do not talk with your mouth full. (I hope I didn’t need to write that.)
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