Contrary to popular belief, networking is not only for business people. We all socialize or network in some form or another on a personal, social or professional level. Attending company parties, clients’ cocktails, formal dinners, golf tournaments, family gatherings or friends’ get-togethers are all part of networking. Here are some networking tips to help you project a positive image.
- Pause when entering a room: Make an entrance that impresses. Stop briefly in the doorway, look around, and smile ~ a pause has a very powerful impact as it announces your presence non-verbally. A pause that impresses is not necessarily a long pause ~ only a few seconds is needed. It is not a pause of hesitation or indecisiveness. Self-conscious people tend to hurry. Confident people pause.
- Never go hungry: If you did not eat a substantial lunch, make sure to eat something like a protein-rich bar before you go to any networking events. Monopolizing the buffet table will not impress anyone, especially your boss, client or prospect. This is the opportunity to mix-and-mingle and widen your network.
- Make a second trip to buffet: Rather than heap your plate till it overspills, it’s best to make another trip to the buffet. The food is not the main attraction, people are. Overfilling your plate might give the impression that you are somewhat greedy, self-centred or self-absorbed and that you fear not being able to have enough. This is an opportunity to show that you like to share and think of others.
- Keep one free hand: Juggling food and drink makes it award to shake hands, either drink or eat – not both at the same time. Hold your glass or plate in your left hand to be able to shake hands at a moment’s notice … don’t forget to wipe your hands if needed before shaking hands.
- Take small bites: Taking smaller bites will allow you to chew, swallow and respond quickly in case someone asks you a question or for comments. Also small foods can be swallowed much faster. Avoid large hors d’oeuvres as they may crumble onto your suit or dress or get all over your fingers… and please never talk with a mouthful.
- Turn off cell phones: Be considerate of others by turning off your cell phone in any networking event. After all, you attended this event to meet people face-to-face, didn’t you? Taking a phone call during a conversation with someone else is basically telling him or her that they are not important enough to continue your conversation. How rude!
- Bring plenty of business cards: Your card reflects on you and your business. Keep them simple, professional, easy to read and in mint condition. Your information should be up-to-date; a worn out or scratched out card makes you look totally unprofessional, out of control and inefficient. Always carry a supply of cards with you; you never know when a casual encounter might turn into a golden opportunity. Wait for someone to request for your card before giving it out. If you offer it too early, you might look too pushy.