Networking for many can be painful daunting events to attend, even for those who are well versed, as there is always anxiety and unfamiliarity. To meet someone for the first time can be awkward, needing to approach them to speak your cause, your business, can prove to be a frightful task.
This even for the extreme experienced extroverts. What you need is to create small talk, to provide a bridge where other like minded humans can begin to communicate, to talk, to get past that awkward phase of pleasantries.
“Hello, my name is Joe.” There are ways, methods, a series of steps to accomplish this in any setting. To break the ice, to get to know someone better, and then leave once you’ve exchanged relevant information.
These are the distinct phases of public networking an event, ways to connect and come across as professional, proficient, someone everyone feels comfortable with, someone everyone wants to deal with again.
Breaking The Ice
So there you are, you attend that much anticipated networking event which caps off the end of the week. You enter, you suddenly make eye contact with someone, that person who you want to meet. You glide over and approach them and then introduce yourself, then what?
Being prepared by having a few powerful engaging open ended ice breaker statements, questions, will always certainly do the trick. For instance, the classic and strategic tried and true proven ice breaker is the proverbial…
“So John, what do you do?” Easy and simple. In other words “John, what type of business are you in?” Most just love talking about themselves when they’re nervous, so the sole purpose is to just get them to start talking about their occupation.
Most also love hearing the sound of their own voice, so the initial ice breaker question is essential and critical, which sets the tone that potentially lays the foundation for an informative conversation.
Another question could be “So John, what brings you here today?” Make sure that you repeat the person’s name. What doing so does is it first helps to burn their name into your mind, associating it with their face, this so you won’t forget it later.
Also, everyone in tense situations loves hearing their name being said, it makes them feel important, while reminding them who they are. So always repeat it as often as possible throughout your conversation.
Getting To Know You Much Better
Depending on the results of the initial ice breaker questions, as it could be hit or miss, you should then be able to determine whether it makes sense to know this person better, especially in social situations.
If not, if you feel there’s no connection, then simply excuse yourself and make a graceful exit. But if you feel a synergy, then attempt to shower them with more open-ended questions, this to dig deeper into getting to know them better.
“So Nancy, how did you ever get into that business?”
“What are the biggest challenges that you encounter?”
“Nancy, help me out, what are the biggest obstacles that you currently face (yourself or their business?)”
“What’s new and trending in your industry lately. Are there any new events which are shaping it?”
You can mix and match variations of these open ended questions, provided that the situation and time permits. However, make sure that you don’t absolutely dominate or monopolize their time.
Since you’re at a “meet and greet” networking event, most likely, they are there to meet as many like minded people as they can, and not just you, this similar to being “speed dating” for business.
So it makes sense to be as courteous and efficient as possible. It just makes better sense to make a graceful exit when there’s no connection, and encourage that both of you should get together in the future.
An Escape Plan Making A Smooth Exit
It can become important how you leave a conversation, as it’s the last impression, vision that you leave on that person. There’s no point leaving or creating any type of animosity by rudely abandoning, blowing someone off. So you need to exit as gracefully as possible.
The key difference being the types of questions or statements that you make once you feel the time has expired, as opposed to talking to them until boredom, this by shifting to making close ended statements.
For instance, you can introduce them to someone who may be of interest to them, and then you can politely excuse yourself. The direction of this dialogue can go something like:
“Hey Donna, I’d like you to meet John. John’s in the high-tech industry as well, and I felt that you two should meet each other.” Once they’ve exchanged pleasantries, then you can immediately exit the conversation.
To do so, you can say something like, “Well, you two most likely have a lot to talk about. Donna, I’ll speak with you later, and John, it was great meeting you again.”
Another example of exiting gracefully can be, “We certainly seem to have a lot in common with what you and I do. Can I give you a call next week, so we can setup a time to talk further?”
Or, “It was great meeting you, will you be attending future meetings? or “Wow, don’t you think this is an excellent event? I need to catch up with my coworkers, it was great to meet you John!”
Networking can be daunting and filled with anxiety for many. So it becomes ideal to arm yourself with actual strategies to meet, talk, and then exit yourself. The key is participating and putting these to good use. The result is more efficient networking for your business concerns.