The idea of networking at your corporate or team building event can be daunting and doesn't always come naturally to individuals even extroverts. It's important to remember these events are designed for you to meet strangers and getting to know your colleagues better. You're in the same position as everyone else and the more events you attend the more comfortable you'll become with building relationships and networking at future events. Here are our top tips for networking at your next corporate event:
Treat individuals like friends
Would you go up to a friend and disrupt a conversation? Don't disrupt another conversation that's happening and barge in to hand over your business card. Treat a new acquaintance like a friend, build rapport, ask questions and the relationship will naturally begin to flourish over time. Continue eye contact, nod and keep your body tilted towards them, this type of engagement will draw the other individual into a more in depth conversation.
Ask great questions
Again, treat someone like a friend and ask thoughtful questions tailored to the individual. This is a great starter if you're more shy or introverted, you will find individuals love talking about themselves so ask lots of questions and take an interest in them. It's always best to walk away knowing the other person spoke more than you. It will support you when tailoring and planning your follow-up more thoughtfully. If you're asking great questions you'll start to draw connections between yourself and the other person.
Introduce yourself to the event organiser
Make efforts to speak with the event organiser, try to seek them out at some point during the corporate event and introduce yourself. This is a great starting point as the individual can help point you in the right direction and introduce you to other attendees.
Don't spam everyone with cards
Don't hand out business cards to everyone you meet. Spend time building a rapport with the individual first and encourage them to ask for the card, don't just offer it within the first 10 minutes. It's also important to be a little more strategic with your networking audience and don't spread such a large net. If you bounce around too many networking events meeting everyone you'll be doing yourself a disservice and spreading yourself too thinly and not developing meaningful connections. When you walk away from a new connection with their business card remember to add notes, this will help you become more specific with the follow up.
Most importantly, be yourself as they are jumping off points for building deeper relationships. If you can't be yourself, your relationship will be built on a lie. Be genuine rather than some you're not. This transparency and authenticity will help to create better long term connections with others at the conference.
Don't be concerned about joining in with a conversation
There's nothing wrong with approaching and joining in with a conversation, just don't be rude and wait for a natural break in the conversation. People who are already talking may enjoy the interruption as it's an opportunity to meet someone new. If the conversation is a little more serious don't be afraid to excuse yourself from the situation. Remember there is no magic formula, the more you get used to networking the more fun it will become. It means your name and face will be regularly remembered by new attendees. Apply the 80/20 rule for following up, individuals often spend too much time trying to meet new people and too little time following up and nurturing relationships. Initiate contact by setting up a LinkedIn invite and suggest a time for a follow up. Most importantly relax and have fun at corporate events.
What are your tips for networking at a corporate event? We'd love to hear from you on Linkedin or Twitter.