I’ve attended networking events for many years and first began making it a major part of my monthly activity in 2008 when the market began its “soft landing”.
Networking events are a great way to go directly to source. You can business develop or discuss your professional services offering in a less “sales” focused dynamic with a more targeted audience which in my experience offers better results.
From a recruitment perspective networking events are an ideal way to meet decision makers and impress (not just by being there when other job seekers are not) but also by engaging in thoughtful conversation.
The purpose of this blog however is not to talk about the merits of networking, but rather to highlight the one thing I often see at networking occasions that baffles me.
People not talking.
I get it, it’s hard to introduce yourself to complete strangers and the coffee machine is often the refuge of the shy.
There is a solution however and it’s one that is based on what I call the cold water effect. I remember as a child swimming in the ocean, you would see two types of people. Those that were swimming around enjoying the water and those that were standing at knee depth shivering with the cold.
The kids standing around in the cold, were getting colder and as such – the prospect of diving under was becomes less and less attractive. Meanwhile those that had jumped straight in and acclimatised were now enjoying themselves, the constant activity more than distracting from the decreasingly obvious cold.
This translates well to a networking event. The longer you spend not engaging, the harder it is to start.
My advice? The first person you see is the first person you talk to. Ignore the coffee, don’t even look at the pastries and do what you came to do which is to build new connections.
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