Hello, My Name Is: 5 Ways to Find Your Footing During Your Next Cocktail Networking Hour
A night out at a networking event may not be every woman’s cup of tea. For some, anxiety may go sky high. For others, they may live for the adrenaline rush that comes from shaking hands and introducing themselves. While networking doesn't have to be terrifying, what is it that can get us all so...worked up?
Try these five suggestions the next time you have a networking event to attend. Finding your footing in the room may actually be (...dare we say it?…) fun.
1. Ask the unexpected questions.
Once you have your drink in hand, get ready to start some conversations. But don’t start them like you typically would. When you find someone you’ve never met before, ask the unexpected questions. Everyone may be asking them who they are and what they do, but once you’ve introduced yourself, pick their brain about “how their business is shaping the industry” or “what their best strategies are for dealing with work stress and finding a healthy work-life balance.” Getting to really know someone is the best way to forge a lasting relationship.
2. If you’re wearing a name tag...use it.
When you scribble your name on your name tag with a Sharpie, “Hello...my name is Molly,” everyone will be able to see that your name is Molly. When shaking hands, use the individual’s name. Say hello with confidence.
3. See who you have in common.
Six degrees of separation isn’t a science fiction theory. The world, inevitably, is super small with all of us being linked to one another through a myriad of ways. At the end of the day, “networking” is just an adult word for “connecting.” Learning where someone is from, where they grew up, and finding out about their career can all be chances to see which people and places you may already have in common.
4. Just because you started a conversation doesn’t mean you have to stay in it.
Power networking is rooted in maximizing networking potential. Maximize your own potential by rotating through the room. If you get sucked into a conversation you’re not too inclined to continue, excuse yourself. Don’t feel obligated to stay with the same person all night. Get out there and mingle!
5. Don’t arrive at a networking event empty-handed.
Committing to an evening of networking means you have all of your materials to share with those who you meet. Did your bring your business cards? Did you bring enough business cards? There’s nothing worse once you’ve handed out your last business card and then meeting someone who you’d really like to stay connected with. Once you’ve handed out your last card, it would certainly be rude to ask for it back! Offer your business swag and/or free samples to those individuals with whom you truly connect.
Remember, networking events don’t have to be scary. Everyone else starts off with those same butterflies in their stomachs, too. With these five tricks, you’re a pro. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
About the Author
Erin is a writer and a creative thinker. With her MFA from Columbia University and her B.A. from Warren Wilson College, she loves exploring process, uncovering how things work, and writing about what matters.