Networking tips are endless -- there is always more to learn, practice, and try. In this second piece about networking, I am focusing on more nuanced scenarios that will help you exude confidence and leave a positive lasting impression. These are three additional tips to make sure people believe you are a true Type A (even if you’re not).
1. Introduce Yourself to Someone You Don’t Know
Picture yourself at the next Meetup and there’s someone you’d really like to connect with, but you don’t actually know them. Start by doing your research. Meetup lists everyone that’s RSVPed, so likely you will have a name of the person you’re looking to meet. Do your homework and review their profile and any connections you may have on LinkedIn. This ensures you have a frame of reference for your future conversation.
Here are some examples of ways to strike up a conversation (once your research is done):
“I’m sorry to interrupt but my name is ___ and I work with ___ and I wanted to introduce myself.”
“Excuse me, I’m ___ and I believe you know [common connection], and I thought [insert reason you’d like to connect].”
Now imagine you’re at the next event and have had no time to prep from the attendee list. Here are some examples of ways to strike up a conversation (with no previous research):
“Excuse me, I’m ___ and this is my ## time at the [event name]! How many times have you come to these events?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt but my name is ___ and I wanted to introduce myself. I noticed [note an observation you can connect over, i.e.: you’re wearing some Dawgs gear, and I’m a big fan].”
When reaching out (in person) to someone you’ve never met before, you might feel unsure, anxious, and worried they won’t care what you have to say. That is why it’s important to note that even if you are doing what your mother always told you not to do (interrupt), make those few minutes you put yourself out there worth it.
2. Don’t Be Rude
One of the main goals of networking is to make sure you stand out in a positive way. You don’t need to wear wacky clothing, dye your hair green, or make inappropriate jokes in order to stand out when networking. Think back to elementary school where you learned about “How to Talk to Adults”. Those lessons apply perfectly to networking:
- Always say please and thank you
- Always smile
- Always listen before speaking
- Make eye contact
- Shake their hand and introduce yourself
- Be polite
- Don’t play with your hair
The list goes on and on but the point is made, use your manners and make the person opposite feel heard. Maya Angelou said “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is exactly what I am talking about. If you are polite and have great manners, that puts you leagues ahead of the rest of the crowd who forgot to “wait their turn to speak” and are unintentionally coming off as rude.
3. Know How to Eloquently Leave a Conversation
Networking can happen anywhere. It can be in a curated setting or a casual run in. Networking never stops and neither should you. Part of that means you will have to put yourself out there to go introduce yourself to “that guy/gal”. That also may mean interrupting conversations. For example, I recently was out to dinner with some friends and I saw the CEO of an AV portfolio company, Tope Awotona. I had never been formally introduced, but know he is making big moves with Calendly, is a friend of my colleagues, and I wanted to introduce myself. So I walked up to him and did just that.
It’s often easier to interject yourself into a professional and pleasant conversations without being awkward, than it is to remove yourself from that conversation. Here are a few lines you can use to quickly jump out once you’ve dove in:
“I just wanted to make sure I introduced myself, have a great rest of your day.”
“I don’t mean to interrupt your [evening/morning/afternoon/meal/etc.], thank you for your time.”
“Please don’t let me take up more of your time, thank you for talking with me.”
Phrases such as these get straight to the point, are polite, and well mannered, and will get you out quickly and smoothly. Use similar phrases to maintain your memorable, and positive pop-in conversation without leaving it in an awkward exit for them to remember you by.
Now while these are only a few tips to add to your networking toolkit, try them out with your family, friends, and the people in your community before you venture out and join other communities. The more you practice the more naturally it will come to you. If you want another community to join, full of educational experiences, great networking, and shared stories, sign up for our newsletter in order to stay up to date on our events!