It was the first of their monthly mingling nights, and definitely a first for me – a colleague had invited me to network at a social event targeted at existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in the Klang Valley. The idea for this post came to me as I was leaving the event, having reached my quota of surface talk that doesn’t allow you to truly connect with a person.
I’ve attended many social and professional events that require networking in some form or another, but yesterday was different. Every conversation contained a very strong “how can we benefit each other?” vibe. Personally, I don’t like feeling as though the only reason I’m spoken to is because someone wants something from me. Take the time to be genuinely interested in what I have to say and who I am as a person before you look at how we can collaborate professionally (or to put it frankly, take advantage of one another).
What was even worse was that the moment I mentioned that I am currently an employee and not an entrepreneur per se, there was almost always an immediate disinterest from the person I was speaking to. Yeah, I may not be a founder of my own startup at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that I am incapable of having unique thoughts and opinions of my own. Maybe some of the people I spoke to didn’t realise that you don’t have to own your own business to have entrepreneur-like traits.
How to win at networking:
Prepare Your One-Liner
This is basically your elevator pitch in super short form. Remember that everyone you meet has probably just met a fair amount of new people who essentially just recited a standard and boring sales pitch. Stand out by keeping your one-liner simple and clear yet interesting enough to be enquired further into.
It’s easy to want to stick to familiar faces when you’re in an intense situation such as a networking event. Whether your familiar faces are colleagues or people from different companies, it’s always good to make a real effort to meet a good amount of new people. Not only is this the main goal of networking events, but such confidence is likely to make a good first impression.
Read Body Language
Whether you like it or not, body language is easily usually very easy to read once you learn how. If you notice that your new acquaintance has checked out of the conversation (see: blank faces/glazed eyes/nodding at a set tempo), stop trying to engage them and move on. There will be someone else who will really listen to what you have to say.
Be A Giver
Don’t be selfish and hoard all of your contacts to yourself. If you realise that you know someone who would be worth introducing to your new acquaintance, do it! Not only does it make no sense to keep contacts to yourself when you could help two parties by forming their connection, you’ll also be remembered in a positive light by the parties you connected.
Take something away from each person you meet. People enjoy talking more than they do listening, so ensure that you always do both when you network. Remember: hearing occurs with or without your consent, listening is an active decision to consider and attempt to understand the meaning of another person’s words.
What are your 2 cents? Let us know in the comments!