Walking into a room full of strangers and trying to strike up a conversation can be a daunting task for some. But networking is a valuable tool to meet similar businesses, share knowledge, build connections and establish a business network, so how can you improve your networking skills?
Here's five top tips from serial networker Joe Venables, Head of Business Development at Bruntwood SciTech…
- You’ve heard of the saying… if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. The same goes for networking. Go in armed with some general and open questions that you can ask people and talk about. Be clued up on topical news and local affairs to help. Remember: the majority of people like being listened to when asked about their own opinions and experiences.
- Make a note of where the tea and coffee area is, it’s there for a reason. It’s hard to walk into a room full of people and walk straight up to an individual. Grab a coffee and take a look who else is getting a drink. This gives you an immediate common ground and opens the door for friendly chat and introductions.
- So you’ve engaged in conversation, then what? How long do you stay talking before moving on? If the conversation comes to a natural end, don’t try grapple on to more conversation. If you want to finish the conversation before this point, ask for a business card before politely moving on.
- Body language is key. Pay attention to people’s body language before approaching. If two people are speaking directly to each other then it is probably best not to interrupt. If people have open body language such as looking around, keeping an open circle, making eye contact with others in the room, this is a good chance to go over and introduce yourself.
- There will always be people in the room that might be less engaged. These people might be feeling even more uncomfortable or out of their depth. Be warm and friendly to these people, spark a conversation to help and see if you can get others involved too.