Forcing polite conversation in controlled circumstances can come across as ingenuine, even with the most skilled networkers. Homing in on your networking skills is, therefore, the only pathway to improvement.
We are here to help with our guide to becoming an expert networker, starting with the essential skills to some effective icebreaker activities to use at your own event.
HOW TO NETWORK LIKE A PRO
It’s simple, just smile. In doing so it will make you appear approachable, genuine and most importantly intrigued. Having open body language such as smiling, strong eye contact and an open posture will invite others to come and interact with you. That means the hardest part of initiating the first meeting is complete.
More importantly, having a friendly demeanour will make you, and consequently your company, far more memorable. This will mean that the connections you make will be long-lasting and hopefully lead to increased business.
Appearing genuine and sincere is the key to forming good connections at networking events. Even though we may not think it, the chances that our listening skills are poor is quite high. Truly listen to every word that is said, without thinking what your response is going to be at the same time. Digest the information then offer a constructive and relevant response.
It’s also important not to divulge in yourself, so ask inciteful questions to express your interest. Don’t be self-serving and instead offer your advice or solutions to the topics of conversation.
These honest connections will be far more worthwhile than any other that you make due to the bond that is formed.
We all know the saying, ‘fail to prepare then prepare to fail’. If you truly want to make the most out of these valuable events, then you will need to do research.
Find out who is attending and shortlist who you want to meet. Setting achievable goals will ensure that you make the most of your time, rather than just hiding out at the food table.
Finding out details about these people, such as their current role and what they look like, will make starting the first conversation easier. You can then pre-plan your questions around this information to make the flow of conversation easier.
The main aim of networking is to build leads and contacts for your company; the way to achieve this is to be memorable. If you stand out from all the hundreds of attendees, then you will be guaranteed to have a higher chance of securing business.
Your introduction can play a huge part in this. Open with a funny anecdote or a story to grab people’s attention. More importantly, don’t be afraid to follow up post event. Send a personalised email to the people that you meet in hope of seeing them again.
JUST BE YOURSELF
Above all, just be yourself. In doing so it’s guaranteed that you will have good body language, will form good connections and will most certainly be memorable.
INVENTIVE ICEBREAKERS FOR YOUR NETWORKING EVENT
Having mastered the art of networking, you will need to have some activities at your event to put these skills to the test. While some activities can be cringe-worthy, our ideas will be sure to keep your guests entertained.
1. PARTNER FINDING ACTIVITIES
The best way to encourage your attendees to talk to one another is to provide the capacity for them to find other people. Set criteria, then ask your guest to go and find someone that matches the requirements.
This simple, yet fun, activity can come in the form of many games. Mix up the name tags and ask guests to find their correct name or pair up by searching for a matching card or image. Human bingo is the most fun as guests compete to find various people who they can tick off on their bingo card.
2. CREATIVE DESIGN
Allow your guests to express themselves creatively in order to show off their personality. Interactive graffiti walls are a great combination of technology and art. Guests can leave a message or drawing for other attendees to engage with.
Alternatively, creating their own name tags with personalised messages such as their favourite hobby or an interesting fact provides an interesting topic of conversation
3. QUESTION AND ANSWERS
The only way you get to know people is through questions and answers, so why not make it fun at the same time? Throwable microphones are always a fun addition to any event. Guests will begin interacting with one another when passing around the microphone without even realising.
For more networking ideas, contact the team.