Tips for making the most of business networking events

Most people do not like networking events, a few do.

Ever been to an event where you don’t know anyone and you awkwardly look for an opening to engage someone in a conversation? Then, you see someone familiar and you go directly to that person and spend most of the rest of the event talking to someone you already know? Yeah, been there, done that.

I’ve learned, however, that networking is very important in the business world. All things being equal (or even when it’s not), people want to do business with someone they know. That’s our human nature. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just the way things are and have always been.

The Seattle business community is pretty small. Whenever I’m out at an event, most people and I have two degrees of separation. We can usually find a mutually common contact point. Nonetheless, meeting people and moving that two degrees of separation to a direct contact can be a powerful thing. Eventually, you will get good at networking and actually start enjoying such events.

Just a few thoughts for your next event:

  • Body Language: 70% of human communication is body language. Are you giving off the right signals to be approachable and interested? It may not be your body odor keeping others away, it could be your body language.
  • Be Yourself: You don’t need to be too clever to make yourself interesting. Be genuine, be honest.
  • Be Curious: If you are interested in others, they will be interested in you.
  • Please, not your Life Story: It’s not dating. You are networking. Get vital information and determine a common ground. If you want to tell more, set up a followup meeting.
  • Mingle, Don’t Monopolize: Don’t monopolize anyone’s time, even if you think you’re extremely interesting. By moving along, you leave some intrigue and open the door for more intimate follow up conversations.
  • Wandering Eyes: Getting tired of the conversation and looking at other name tags passing by? Rude. Better to wrap up the conversation and move along.

See you at the next event.