Tip Number One. Volunteer. Find an organization that interests you or someone you want to help, learn from, or work with. It’s a great way to meet people and learn new skills.
Tip Number Two: Remember people’s names. Recite them. Write them down. Look for associations that will help you remember (Gayle: It was windy when we met). Read Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Don’t look at someone’s name tag directly when you are addressing them (especially if you have met them before). Walk by when that person is in conversation with someone else and take a glimpse at their tag. Then come by and say hello a few minutes later. Remembering names is key.
Tip Number Three: Be a good listener. Everyone likes to talk (especially about themselves). Let the other person do most of the talking. When Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) was asked what his greatest secret was, he said “I’m a really good listener.” Trust me, he is. And remember, you can learn from anyone.
Tip Number Four: Don’t jump right to business. Start with a genuine interest in the other person. Ask about hobbies, passions. These are good ways to get started. Give it your 100%, even if you think that there is no professional connection, there is always some way to learn and benefit. And who knows, there may that unanticipated connect, after all.
Keep in mind that when we meet someone, that someone may suggest to connect us with someone else more closely associated to our field. This is an act of extreme kindness and of great potential benefit. Treat it as such.
Tip Number Five: Leave your comfort zone. If you arrived at a networking event with someone, part ways. If you want to meet someone who speaks a foreign language, practice a few words (beforehand) in that person’s language. Or even better, learn a song. That will really break the ice.
Tip Number Six: Be well groomed. Take care of your hair, fingernails, etc. BEFORE the cocktail. Freshen up before the event. “People that don’t smell well can’t make a sale.” Having said that, go easy on the perfume. Very, very easy. If at all.
Tip Number Seven: Be real. Be good. Be charming. Be yourself. Avoid divisive topics such as politics. Don’t trash others. They may be a friend of the person you are talking to. If you can be of help, suggest a link or contact, be sure to do so, even if there is no apparent benefit to you. Especially if there is no apparent benefit to you!
Tip Number Eight: Exchange business cards. I know it’s archaic, but nothing has replaced it yet. Have yours ready. Don’t fill them with too much information. They should be concise, interesting, a reflection of who you are (i.e., don’t overstate, and don’t be flashy unless you’re a stand-up artist or magician). When you receive one, make sure you hold it in your hands (especially in the Far East), look at it and acknowledge it before sticking it in your pocket.
If you want to make a few notes on the card about the person or the subject you discussed, wait until you get home. Writing on someone’s card in their presence is a no-no.
Tip Number Nine: Follow up with a brief personal e-mail. Example.
Dear Dr. Cluck, I just wanted to say how great it was meeting you and talking with you about the future of albino ducks. Here is a link to the article we discussed: blahblahblah. If you have a free moment, I would be grateful if you could take a look at what we are doing to make ducks everywhere more colorful. Very best wishes, Amber
Tip Number Ten: Practice, practice, practice. Fail, fail, learn, succeed. Go to meetups, networking events, whenever you can. They will help you feel more comfortable, and you are bound to improve. Who knows? The worst thing that can happen is a. meeting amazing people; b. gaining insight; c. making new friends; d. getting an investment or great job.
Tip Number Eleven: Don’t Press, Pester People or Invade their Space. The people that you want to meet are human beings. They expect you to be one too. Humans they don’t like to be pressed, pestered, or have their space invaded. If you want to meet a stranger more than they want to meet you, please keep this in mind. Social media is SOCIAL media.
I personally dislike it when people whom I don’t know, or barely know, pester me on social media. Remember that when you post on someone else’s feed, timeline etc., you may be seriously guilty of invading their space. And there are serious consequences.
Bonus Tip: The One Drink Rule It’s quite okay to nurse a (as in one) drink at a networking event in which liquor is served (in which case better to return by cab). Carry the same half empty glass around the entire evening. And don’t get drunk, unless that is the kind of lasting impression you want to leave.
Extra Bonus Tip: There are always opportunities to network and meet new people. Without being particularly obtrusive. People meet people everywhere, on airplanes, coffee houses, you name it. Have a look at how this ‘chance’ meeting on an airplane changed Tina Seelig’s life. And yes. You never know who the person is who holds a key to your success journey.