Five Networking Tips for your Next Event

Five Networking Tips for your Next Event

Attending an event soon? That's great! Get offline, go meet with people in person - it's good for you. Whether it's a big corporate conference, a small business event, a CMX Connect, or let's face it, a bar on a Friday night, meeting people and making conversation can sometimes be difficult and feel a bit forced. So, how do you make the most of an in person opportunity?

Here are five tips for how to meet people and network like a pro!

1. Don't say the F-Word

When a stranger comes up to you at an event, the default question is often, "how are you?" The best way to shut down a conversation before it even begins is with that dangerous four-letter f-word: Fine. Instead of delivering the default, "fine, thanks, and you?" try answering the question honestly: "I'm great, my mind is reeling after the talk I just listened to," or , "I'm actually a bit tired - conferences sure can be exhausting - but I'm still really excited to see this talk later this afternoon!" Being honest with your answer will spark conversation, and let your new friend in.

2. Don't "Network"

There's always that person at an event, the Ash, who's "gotta catch 'em all" and goes around collecting business cards without having any genuine conversations. We're not Pokemon, we're people, we can't be collected. Don't be an Ash. Stop thinking about it as networking, or collecting contacts, and instead, think of it as just meeting people! Seriously, this mindset switch will immediately change the way you move through the space.

3. Places Unknown

This one might make a lot of people's skin crawl. Ready? Try to sit at a table with people you don't know. There's no more effective way to meet people than to force yourself to meet people. Take a deep breath, think of a question or two to ask like, "which has been your favourite talk so far?" or "which talk are you most excited for?" then, prepare yourself to answer "how are you?" honestly, and take a seat at a table full of strangers.

4. Remember. Their. Name.

Ok ok ok, I know some people claim they are "horrible with names" but I don't think this is an acceptable excuse. I mean, I used to be bad at my multiplication tables, but then I learned how important they are, so I figured out how to get better at them! I'm not saying you need to be perfect (goodness knows I still struggle with my 7 times tables), but there is a difference between trying to learn something and just accepting that you are bad at it. There are multiple mnemonic devices to aid you in remembering people's names. The one I like best is to make eye contact and repeat their name back to them two times when you first meet. When they introduce their name, repeat it as a question to make sure you heard correctly, then say "nice to meet you ______!"
"My name is Beth!"
"It's really nice to meet you, Beth!"

5. No Phones

It can sometimes be difficult to disconnect, to turn your phone off, or put it on silent and ignore it for an extended period of time. I get it. Oh boy, do I get it. Challenge yourself. Try to muster up the same kind of courage it took to sit at a table of strangers, put your phone in your bag, and don't check it. If you are standing alone, on your phone, you are closing yourself off to the rest of the world. Nobody will come over to talk to you. Instead, phone away, eyes up. This will invite people over.
And I don't even want to have to say this, but DON'T CHECK YOUR PHONE IF SOMEONE IS TALKING TO YOU!

Phew. Things got passionate in that list. I hope these tips help the next time you are at an event of any kind, whether it's a professional conference, or a social gathering at a friend's house. Put yourself out there, be honest, remember names, and put your phone away.

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Looking for an event where you can practice your new skills? CMX is the premiere community for community professionals. Bevy is building communities in real life. With all our powers combined, we bring you CMX Connect, powered by Bevy.

About Author

Beth McIntyre

Community & Events Marketing Manager at Bevy! Passionate about building our community and connecting with members. When I'm not writing for the Bevy Blog, I'm writing about my global travels!

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