[friend’s name]?” This may generate great conversation topics.
When you finally get a chance to speak with your friend, let her know that you do not know many people at the event and ask if she would introduce you to someone there. If you have a specific type of person you want to connect with, let your friend know that as well.
Tip 4: Utilize the activities at the event
The toughest networking scenario is if you don’t know anyone at the event and go by yourself. In this case, try to use the activities or functions at the event to your advantage. Does the event have a bar or buffet? Once you are in the food or beverage line, begin speaking to someone also in line. Are you at an art gallery? Approach a piece of art and chat about it with someone else who is also looking at it. It’s much easier to speak to people when you already have some common ground.
Tip 5: Find the ‘easy to approach’ people
Look around the room, can you identify anyone else who is by themselves? This may be a good person to speak with as they are probably feeling somewhat uncomfortable with the situation as well. If there is no one else standing alone, look for those in a group of two. Smaller groups are easier to approach. Before approaching any group, look at their body language. Do they seem to be having a personal conversation? Or does it seem like a more casual networking conversation? Seek out those who do not appear to be having a private conversation.
The “comfort” trap – Once you have found someone or a small group of people to speak to, most people begin to relax. Make sure you don’t stay anchored to this new group the rest of the evening. Remember your goals and act on them, being courteous at the same time. Once there is a natural lull in the conversation, use that to break away.
Tip 6: Moving on Gracefully
If the conversation is clearly over, there are several ways to easily move on so you can continue meeting new people. You can take a food or drink break and announce, “I’m going to grab a drink.” Or, at the first conversation pause, you can say something like, “It was great to meet you, [first name]. I’m going to continue to mingle and if I find anyone who could be a good contact for you, I’ll make sure to introduce you.” A final way to end the conversation is to offer your business card or ask for theirs.
These tips should take some of the anxiety out of networking events! If you have tips on making networking events successful, let us know in the comments section below.