But there's no doubt that networking is absolutely crucial to building a successful business. And luckily, it is a skill that can be learned.
So, if you're one of those people who would rather have a root canal done than go out and network, take a look at these three tips for better networking at parties.
1. Read the Room
The way you act should be based primarily on the energy of the room. For example, you might do well to puff yourself up a bit more and be more assertive at a boisterous, noisy cocktail party.
And at a reserved, quiet gathering, you will want to tone it down a bit. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be yourself — just make sure that your behavior closely matches everyone else's.
2. Understand Body Language
Research shows that only seven percent of communication is verbal. So if you don't have a good grasp on reading and leveraging body language, you are missing out! Look for people in the room with open body language, which will take some form of the following:
These people will be more receptive to starting a conversation with you. Furthermore, you should be sure that your body language is inviting and welcoming. Don't huddle closely with people you already know, and make sure you don't close yourself off by hunching over your food or cell phone.
If someone walks up to your circle, be the first to open up your circle and let them speak up and say hi.
When you're talking to someone, use your body language as a tool. Lean in slightly to show interest, be open to eye contact (but don't start an unblinking, awkward staring contest), and be expressive when it's natural. A good listener will mirror the speaker's body language and show obvious interest in what is being said.
Don't be looking all around the room other people to talk to next (I SUCK AT THIS).
3. Know How to Start Conversations
For some people, the hardest part of meeting new people is knowing what to say. Come to the party armed with a few topics you can comfortably chat about with a variety of people. For example, topics like recent sporting events or industry news work well, but you will want to stay away from politics unless it is a political setting.
Most events, especially the good ones will have common themes. "What do you do?" "How do you know the organizer?" "Is this your first time at this event?" are usually all safe starters.
Make sure not to dominate the conversation. Your best bet is to ask lots of questions and get people talking about themselves — just make sure you actually listen and show interest. This is a powerful way to get people to open up. If they're not interesting, leave, it's much better than pretending. "I'm going to use the restroom," I'm going to get another drink," "Great chatting, good luck with your endeavors," are all great ways to end it politely.
Businesses are built on relationships, and a strong personal brand with a wide network can open up opportunities you've never dreamed of. If you're looking for help building your personal brand, please contact us.