With the spring weather making people feel more social, you’ve probably noticed that in the last few weeks your e-mail inbox has been filling up with more and more invitations to networking events. The warmer weather tends to make us want to step outside more, become more social and organise events that connect and inspire.
No matter how much experience you have in the corporate world, networking events may still make you nervous. This is normal. When you accept your invitation, you don’t know who will be at the event, you don’t know who you’ll talk to, or even what you’ll talk about. As humans, we don’t like uncertainty. It’s this uncertainty that makes every networking event you go to a test of your confidence, self-assurance, and poise. Basically, you have to step outside of your comfort zone every time you go.
To put your mind at ease and equip you with tools that will help you to project confidence (even if you don’t immediately feel it), I want to share with you the 3 tips below.
1. Walk in With Confident Posture
Your posture is at the core of your confidence and poise. It’s the first thing you need to work on because it’s one of the first things others will notice about you as soon as you walk into the room.
I often see people walk into networking events with slumped shoulders and a lowered gaze. This type of posture may help you feel more secure, but to others it only makes you look insecure.
Instead, straighten your posture. Push your shoulders back, lift your ribcage and raise your chin so that you’re looking just above the crowd. Scan the room to identify the right group to talk with. You’ll instantly see a change in the way others react to you.
2. Choose the Right Group to Talk With
Choosing somebody to talk with at a networking event can be daunting. The common fears most people have (and the ones you probably have too) are: Will this person want to talk with me? Will they be nice?
Let me reveal something to you: people attend networking events to meet other professionals, just like you. Interacting with new people is the whole purpose of networking events. It’s exactly why you’re there, and it’s exactly why others are there too.
If you find approaching groups a little daunting, try this solution that I use all the time: Identify a group of about 3-4 people. Look at the body language of the group. Is there somebody whose feet or shoulders are slightly angled out from the group? Is there a gap in between two people? These are signs that others are welcome to join the group. So be brave, walk up, and introduce yourself.
3. Become the Conversation Leader
You may think that as conversation leader, you have to do most of the talking. This is not true. As conversation leader, it’s your responsibility to ask the questions and direct the conversation to where you want it to go. It’s the perfect position to be in if you’re a little shy or introverted by nature.
People love to talk about themselves. From my experience, if you let the other person tell you all about their job, their family, or their most recent holiday, they will absolutely love you for it. Why? Because you have made them feel special.
And take a look at these articles for more advice and tips for your next networking event:
“How to Enter a Networking Event with Power”
“Savvy Networking Know-How (Part 1)”
“Savvy Networking Know-How (Part 2)”
When you attend networking events, what is usually the first thing you do when you enter the room? Do you go to the bar, the food section, or dive straight into conversation with somebody?