By Ryan Métivier
1. Remember, we’re all in the same boat
I often chat with people who don’t frequent networking events, and hear them say it must be intimidating to go to something with so many strangers. But everyone who is part of your life started out as a stranger in one way or another. And attending a network event is not much different than attending a party or other event where you don’t know many people.
In fact, at a networking event the majority of people likely don’t know each other, which actually makes it easier to strike up a conversation. Most people are probably thinking the same thing you are; so take a breath, walk up a to a few people, and introduce yourself.
You’ll be surprised how easy it is from there! And if you’re really shy, why not invite a friend or co-worker to come out and join you?
Additionally, many of these events have workshops, ice-breaking activities, or are geared towards people in your own career field if you’re attending an industry-specific event (prime example being the IABC Waterloo Mix and Mingle Holiday Social, on December 14, at Abe Erb, just saying)—which makes getting to know new people easier.
2. Come prepared
Okay, so you found a great event, you’re here and you’ve met some other cool, interesting people, now what…?
Well this isn’t much different than a conversation you may have with someone you were meeting for the first time anywhere else. But a few good starting points would be some simple questions such as:
- Where do you work, how long have you been there and what do you do?
- Have you been to one of these events before?
- Where did you go to school?
- Are you from the area?
Usually at least one of these questions will lead to some common ground or an extended conversation. And always remember to bring a few business cards for those people you have great conversations with and want to keep in touch with after the event.
3. But, don’t come with an agenda
Is part of your motivation to attend the event to network for a new job or client? Quite possibly. And that’s great, and it may in fact happen. But not every interaction you have will turn into a business lead. And that’s okay! You never know who you’ll meet out there. Maybe it’s a business connection or maybe it’s a new friend. Or it could be someone who wants to join your rec sports team or who has a similar hobby, or just someone who can share best practices with you down the line. These conversations and relationships need to emerge organically.
In any sense, always try to keep growing the relationships that come out of these events. Maintaining these connections can start with a simple message the next day about the event or your conversation. Attend enough events and pretty soon you’ll be walking into a room with plenty of familiar faces and maybe even some friends!
And, last plug, don’t forget to try out these newfound tips and tricks at our annual Holiday Mix and Mingle Social, happening at Abe Erb Kitchener on Thursday, December 14. Free for IABC members! Grab your tickets today.