I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
Networking at business events is REALLY hard. You’re outside your comfort zone, you need to approach strangers, don’t really know who to connect with or what to say, and you definitely don’t want to make a bad first impression with someone important.
But is business networking really hard?
Well, it turns out, you can dramatically increase your chances of making the connections you want with ease by following these simple 11 habits at your next networking event.
By the time you finish reading this article you’ll know how to:
- Appear more confident
- Approach people with ease
- Control a conversation
- Enable people to want to ask you for your business card Let’s jump in
1). Successful people research who will be attending
There is usually a list of attendees posted online or the event planner can provide it. Successful people use sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to research and get to know people before meeting them. It’s a little extra work, but skilled networkers know this is one of the keys to connecting with people faster.
2). Successful people keep up with current events and news
Staying current on news and events of the day can provide you with information you use to connect with someone in a conversation. Here’s a short list of sites you can visit daily to always stay up-to-date:
- News: cnn.com
- Sports: espn.com
- Business: forbes.com
- Entertainment: people.com
- Interesting Stories: aol.com
3). Successful people dress appropriately
This goes without saying, but you should research the dress code ahead of time. This small detail can come back and bite you, as you could show up either overdressed or underdressed. Always check the event’s website, a brochure, or send the event coordinator a quick email if needed. Remember, the details matter.
4). Successful people arrive early
Most people would rather be fashionably late then be the first one at the event. Coming early allows you to pick your seating, understand the layout of the space, and ensure you connect with everyone coming in. When you go to an event hoping others want to connect with you, you will always lose out on opportunities.
5). Successful people avoid alcohol
Alcohol affects everyone differently, but this is no place to get relaxed or out of control. Having a sharp and clear mind will always help you maximize the opportunities in front of you.
6). Successful people have mastered small talk
When it comes time for you to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation out of thin air it can feel uncomfortable. Successful people never shoot from the hip when starting a conversation. A great technique to use to help you approach anyone with ease is using the OPEN Formula. This simple 4 step process will help you start a conversation with anyone in no time.
7). Successful people know how to actively listen
Why is it so easy to forget someone’s name? At the core it’s not because you’re bad with names, 99% of the time it’s because you’re focused on what you’re going to say next and was never listening when they told you in the first place. Successful people focus on the other person and listen intently to build on the conversation with ease.
8). Successful people are memorable
Have you ever met someone for the first time, and they immediately struck you as interesting? Successful people know how to talk about themselves. This is exactly what the AHEAD technique will do for you. Once you utilize this technique, you will start to discover people asking for your business card in the middle of the conversation, as you’re in full control. We recommend trying out our free elevator pitch builder which can help you become memorable in 15 seconds or less and uses the first 2 parts of the AHEAD technique.
9). Successful people are authentic and humble
Successful people are confident which enables them to be authentic and would rather give thanks to others for their achievements. The key to being more confident in knowing what to say and when to say it. Those keys are in the OPEN formula and the AHEAD technique discussed earlier. When you’re comfortable in a conversation, it allows you to relax and be yourself.
10). Successful people are helpful
Nothing is more memorable at an event than someone who goes out of their way to help you. As your chatting with someone look for ways to help them. Maybe connecting them with someone new or pointing them to an article that can help them in the future.
11). Successful people are funny
Nothing helps break the ice and build rapport faster than using a little self-deprecating humor. Maybe you’re talking about sports, diets, getting older, or when you were younger, you could use a line like “I used to have the body of a football player. Now I have the body of a fantasy football player”.
As you can see, you probably utilize most of these habits in one form or another. Now you have a roadmap to enable these habits to work for you when it really matters. Being disciplined and using these habits at future events will set you apart from 99% of your peers. Remember, 15 seconds can be the difference between fast-tracking your career or watching it stand still for years.