I'm about to head off to the Sage Summit for the first time and came across Joanne's post on confidence in networking. I tend to find networking quite enjoyable (probably because I'm nosy) and look forward to the prospect of meeting new people.
However for me, successful networking really seems to depend on the type of event. At small hosted events, drinks receptions and seminars, people already understand that networking is part of the reason they are there. Usually we have received a list of attendees, some of which we may already know and can therefore feel more prepared.
It's quite a different story at trade shows. Companies have spent an awful lot of money erecting brilliant stands and presentations with the aim of driving new business and brand building. Therefore I find them less inclined to spend time "chatting" if they don't immediately see a value to them. It's even worse if you are trying to sell them!
So taking into account Joanne's advice, I'm going to do the following:
- I'll wear a Passle badge. Perhaps a little cheesy, but it stands out more than my standard name badge. Hopefully it will lead to a question and conversation can build from there.
- I'm not going to sell. I'm going to the Sage Summit to see some existing clients and see what new challenges businesses are facing that Passle can help with. If I happen to talk to people along the way who are interested in our services, brilliant.
- I'll ask lots of questions. Very simple for those that are a little nervous! Asking questions gives the other person an opportunity to talk about themselves and their business and takes the spotlight away from you.
- Eye contact. I find it particularly strange when I have a one-on-one conversation with someone and they don't meet my eye. Talking to the rest of the room and even not facing people directly gives an air of indifference. I'm not saying have a stare off without blinking! But do remember eye contact is important in establishing any relationship.
Wish me luck!
Online personas are a great way to fake it. I might ooze confidence behind my computer but in person I'm screaming "help me!" Online you have a variety of stats and insights which clearly show you, hey you know what you are talking about and people like what you have to say. In person you have to be eloquent, concise and deliver with confidence and believe in what you have to say. There's no room for editing and making that sentence the best you can. More importantly there is no-one holding up a giant blue thumbs up, signally I'm talking sense or my comments are met in agreement.