At December’s IABC mentorship event, we experienced a night of chai, samosas and networking at the 109 Remedy Cafe loft. The event was graciously sponsored by the MacEwan University Bachelor of Communication Studies program. Certified Image Consultant Joanne Blake presented Savvy Networking – Connecting Through Conversation. Here’s what we learned!
Have a “host” mentality
- Guests wait to be approached; move from guest to host behavior so you're not afraid to initiate introductions or conversation
Use “WIN” icebreakers
- Use icebreaker conversations around the topics: Work, Interests and Neighbourhood
- Ask specific questions: “What motivated you to work in your field?” or “Have you always lived in this city?”
- Move from small talk to more purposeful conversation by finding common interests
- Prioritize them over you in conversation, and end with sharing a fact about yourself
Entering a conversation
- One-on-one: In line at a conference, make a comment about the turnout or an interesting presenter
- In a group: Approach a group and say, “Sounds like you are having a great time, may I join you?”
Exiting a conversation
- Comment how it was nice to meet them, and you hope to connect again
- Introduce them to another person they may benefit from meeting
- Move straight across the room, after ending the conversation.
- Only follow up if you’re genuinely interested in staying connected
- Reconnect within one week of meeting
- Personalize your message, by recapping your last conversation
- Keep connecting: second and third connections cement the connection
- Introverts: arrive early; this prevents you from having to break into groups and conversations when you arrive late. This will also help you “warm up” as people arrive
- Extroverts: Follow the 60/40 rule: 60 per cent listening and 40 per cent talking
- Recharge by talking to people you know
Remember: Everyone feels some anxiety about networking, even CEOs!
For additional networking tips: http://styleforsuccess.com/
Alison Richards is currently studying public relations at Macewan University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Macewan.