You're so vain, you probably think this blog is about you. . . .

27 Mar 2016 8:30 PMMike Bennett
You're so vain, you probably think this blog is about you. . . .

Carly Simon sang a similar line back in the '70s (when I was a young child!) and a few of those lines really do ring true when it comes to networking events. Last week we (The current Mrs Bennett and I) attended two very different gatherings and both of them were educational to say the least!

As a result, I've come up with a few tips that may just help the next time you feel the need to walk into a room full of strangers!

1: Nobody likes to be first!

It's like turning up at a party and heading straight for the kitchen to hide the shame of being the first person the the room. Let the meeting organiser set up the room or at least unlock the door before you make a beeline for the finger food. (More about those dangers later!)

 

2: Remember, it's not a cabaret show

You're really not expected to be the life and soul of the party. By all means keep the conversation light but trying for the big laugh in a small group can result in the sound of tumbleweed filling the air and the look that says "Ah, he's that guy!" Listening and learning is far more valuable than working on your best one liner. 

3: Be honest with yourself

Why are you attending in the first place? If you're planning on selling your product or services then I suggest you open an eBay shop or take some paid advertising out on Google because people are not buying. Seriously, we really don't need to see your fantastic new invention or hear the reasons why we are wearing the wrong makeup (aimed at me I think) when we are trying to learn about the people who have expressed an interest in us.

 

4: Play your cards right

Handing out 50 business cards at a network event might seem like a result but is it? I would rather give 2 or 3 cards away to people I've had a conversation with than a rain forest worth that will end up in a recycle bin or buried in a "useful contacts" box somewhere in the great Abyss. I guarantee, if someone wants your card they'll ask for it. What doesn't go down that well is having a card thrown in your direction then the person heads off to talk to someone more interesting!

 

5: Finger food is not your friend

No matter how you look at it, samosas, pastries and sushi are not flattering when the remains cling on to the surface of your teeth despite your best efforts to conceal the evidence. The temptation to stare at that morsel of cabbage rather than listen to your new contact will be overwhelming.

Someone will approach you to ask what you do just as that mini quiche settles on your tongue. . . It's a skill normally reserved for restaurant waiting staff but very common on all networking occasions.

6: Expect the unexpected

We have no expectations when we network.

I like to hear stories and experiences from other people like us who have decided to move 12000 miles away to the other side of the world or to share best practice with people who are in a similar industry

If you go into an event expecting 10 new contracts or potential clients, you're going to be disappointed so just see it for what it is, an opportunity to meet new people and watch them struggle with the party pies designed to burn a large hole into the roof of your mouth on contact!