Professional Networking Tips Before You Walk In The Room.
Three networking preparation tips:
1) Comfortable Shoes:
Professional networking events are about walking, talking, moving, standing and mingling. Don’t expect to find the venue littered with chairs. You don’t want people to gravitate to a chair or one table for the duration of the event. Chairs limit the accessibility of people to new people. Expect to find an open space that encourages movement and mingling. That means you should wear comfortable shoes. I’m short, so I’ve invested heavily in shoes that are comfortable but have high heels. I don’t like being the shortest person in the room (that’s a whole other topic). I don’t know any stilettos that are comfortable.
2) Eat before arriving:
Networking events normally have light bite-size appetizers that are easy to hold, as well as both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options. Don’t expect a sit-down dinner. Food tends to stop conversations and disrupt networking. If you are so worried about food than you will find it difficult to maintain a comfortable conversation without worrying if you have food in your teeth. I sure you won’t die if you eat after the event. Or grab an apple so you can munch while driving to the event. Anything in your hand like a plate or wine glass slows down your ability to communicate effectively.
3) Be prepared to be a connector:
There will always be some participants that stand alone. Be the person that solves their problem by starting a conversation with them and connecting them with others in the room. Being seen as a connector better services your value to the room, than just handing out business cards. Some of my best connections have been from introverted people that HATE to mingle with new people.
Lastly, if you stay in a circle with people you already know then shame on you. Stop complaining that you don’t see a benefit from networking because you are the problem.
Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how to prepare for a networking event.