Ten Easy Steps To Master Networking
Networking isn’t always easy.
To help you with your small talk, we have put together a range of tips to start and sustain conversations while networking.
At Readygrad we are very passionate about educating our students about the benefits of Networking. This article looks at some of the best ways to start and sustain conversations whilst networking – otherwise known as ‘Small Talk’
1. Read up on the latest news
Before you attend a networking event spend some time reading up on the latest news and events pertinent to your industry. For example if attending an event focused around ‘Cloud Computing’ spend time looking at developments, market trends and interesting information so that you have information to share with like-minded professionals.
2. Ask for an introduction from the host
The hardest part of attending a networking event is starting your first conversation. If you are particularly nervous try this tip. Before the event starts ask the organiser if they could introduce you to a fellow participant. This will help you feel more comfortable starting a conversation and help raise your confidence.
3. Join a group who look friendly
When you enter a networking room always try and seek out the friendliest looking people. Aim for those who are smiling with open body language. They will be easier to start and join in a conversation with. Remember to make sure you smile – people will be more likely to speak with you!
4. Try and make eye contact before joining a group
When approaching a group who are already formed try and make eye contact with a member of the group. This will alert them that you are joining the conversation and hopefully they will allow you an opportunity to participate in the conversation without being ‘stuck on the outside’ of the circle.
5. Offer to help set up the room
The easiest way to start conversations is by being one of the first people to arrive at the venue. By offering to help set up the room or by arriving early you will be able to calm your nerves by having tasks to complete. It is also much easier to make conversation when the room is not so busy and others are not in established conversations.
6. Don’t be controversial
When speaking with others always be professional, courteous and friendly. Avoid controversial topics of conversation and leave personal opinions at the door. You are attending business networking and need to be professional at all times.
7. Ask leading questions
People love to talk about themselves! If you feel nervous making conversation have lots of questions ready to ask others – this will help you take control of the conversation and will also enable you to learn from their answers. Good questions include: Why have you decided to attend today? Have you been to any of these events before? Who are you hoping to speak with today? Where do you work?
8. Use your position as a graduate to gain advice
Most people at networking events have been in your position at some point. Use the networking event to gain advice – ask a question such as ‘I am a new graduate and this is my first networking event – what advice would you give me?’ or if attending industry specific events you could ask fellow participants about their career path since graduating and what courses/events they have attended and what they would recommend. Be eager to learn and listen carefully and you will find that people will share their experiences with you.
9. Keep on smiling!
Remember to keep your smile constant. People are naturally attracted to speak to happy people with a smile.
10. What is the worst that could happen?
It is natural to feel a little nervous before networking, even the most seasoned professionals might still a little anxious when meeting new people. However the majority of people attending will be professional and polite. As long as you are friendly and polite you will be surprised at how easy and fun networking can be – as well as useful to your future career.
Is the thought of shaking hands with strangers and making small talk making you nervous just thinking about it? Don’t worry. When done properly, networking can be fun and extremely rewarding. We are here to educate you as students about the benefits of Networking. Speak to one of our mentors today.