Work That Room

According to the Stanford Shyness Clinic, 93 % of American adults dread walking into a room full of people, especially strangers. That is a very high statistic, particularly for people who want to develop business through making connections.  It takes a concerted effort to jump the fears and put yourself out there.  However, just like public speaking, the more often you commit to attending networking events, the easier it gets.  Before working a room, try these tips:

  • Do some homework on the event and figure out who is attending before walking in the door. Understanding the organization and its members will help you position yourself favorably.
  • Prepare some conversation points.  Understand what is going on in the audience’s industry.  Have a few talking points ready to use if conversations lull.
  • Read name tags and introduce yourself with a sturdy handshake while repeating the person’s name out loud.  Ask them where they work, or how they became involved in the organization hosting the event.
  • If you can’t bear to go alone, ask someone to attend with you.  When you get there, work the room together, introducing one an other along the way.  Be very careful to break away and meet new people, though.  If you just speak to this one person all night, you have lost the opportunity to work the room.
  • Hand out your business card and ask for their cards as well.  At the end of the night, jot down notes about conversations you held with each person on the back of their cards. This simple practice will help you send out meaningful follow-up emails and invitations through Linked In.

Attending networking events can be an effective way to meet new people and build upon existing relationships while having some fun.  Thoughtful preparation, meaningful discussions and prompt follow-up are all important steps that will help you get the most out of your time. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people, chances are that many others in the room are feeling as apprehensive as you are.  Finally, attend multiple events put on by an organization.  You will slowly get to know more people, making each subsequent event more enjoyable and fruitful.