Networking: Getting out of our shells

Networking is building a relationship and connecting with another person, usually during a networking event, which might have a social or business nature.

This article is for you, the one who feels anxiety speaking to someone at a conference or industry event. This might happen even if you are a well known speaker or presenter. At one point you will be with a group of people and out of your comfort zone, not knowing how to break the ice. I will present you my answer on this topic and feel free to give some feedback about your ideas!

How do I get out from my shell at an event or conference?

It’s not a drinking problem Mom, It’s called networking… Look it up!

anonymous || Archer

Think about networking like a ballroom, you need certain manners to be able to present yourself, start a proper conversation, keep it interesting, and graciously finish the conversation with a dance of contact exchange.

The white shirt, suit pants and shiny shoes, for me personally are a must have when I start networking outside of my circle of acquaintances. As always in life, there are exceptions, when the occasion requires to dress by a certain conduit, or is organized in a more casual venue. Just don’t overdo it in any direction.

  • To start a proper conversation be relaxed and don’t overwhelm your interlocutor.
  • Give a firm handshake at the beginning
  • Don’t be afraid to look like a hitchhiker left hanging, some people don’t like to be touched. In this case just do what they do.
  • Never go for a friendly hug or kiss on the cheek!
  • Stay away from wet hands syndrome. Keep a pack of tissues on you just in case. It will come in handy, not only for yourself but you could also help someone too.
  • Try to keep the discussion about them
  • Ask them what brought them to the event you are both at. This will put you in the right direction

You are at an event, everyone wants to meet everyone, so keep the discussion free of unimportant details. If there is a specific reason for why you are there, it is best to have a short description of that at hand, to make the discussion easier.

If you find things in common or you can learn from each other, ask permission for a LinkedIn connection. If you get it, send the request on the spot to confirm you have the right person. Of course, you can exchange email addresses and phone numbers, where a business card will come in handy. Also, this exchange should be mutual, if you get a reluctant vibe from the other person, just let them be, this is also fine.

  • If possible, go with one or more friends at the event, it will make things more fun
  • Networking should be a pleasant result of meeting new people. It should come naturally and being yourself should do the trick.

This is it! Now go out there and meet new people!

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