Making business contacts is an important part of career advancement. Knowing how to do it is important to personal development. Attending a business meeting or conference can be exciting and rewarding. However, what happens to the person who is not particularly comfortable “schmingling?”
For people whose first inclination is to sit it out while other people interact, chat it up, exchange business cards, and network like there is no tomorrow, it can seem like a very long event. Learning to feel comfortable initiating conversations and making new business connections is important for career-minded individuals who want to make the right contacts, but just aren’t exactly sure how.
For anyone who feels intimidated attending a business meeting or event where networking and schmingling are on the top of the agenda, here are five tips on how to get through it with grace and professionalism.
Prepare in Advance
This means thinking through possible situations or scenarios, planning a list of possible topics to discuss, and anticipating the general business environment. Begin by dressing appropriately.
There’s no worse feeling than to show up at an event wearing the wrong attire. It can ruin the entire day. Then practice opening up conversations by using conversation starters or ice breakers. Be prepared to ask and answer questions.
Create a Personal Brand
Just like advertisers who brand their products, savvy professionals understand the importance of creating their own personal brand; distinguishing themselves from the crowd. This means making a good first impression by establishing your uniqueness and communicating a strong sense of who you are. The best way to do this is to…
Develop a 30-Second Elevator Speech
An elevator speech is a 30-second description of what someone does and why it is important. The purpose is to captivate the other person’s interest and in some instances even sell them on a product or service, all within the time that it typically takes to ride an elevator.
This is not about name, rank and serial number. Job titles and company names are boring. This is about adding a little flare, perhaps a bit of humor, and creating an interesting professional persona.
Get to Know Other People First
Sometimes people forget that there are others out there who are equally uncomfortable meeting new faces for the first time. One of the best ways to help someone else feel comfortable is to take time to get to know that person first.
Start by asking questions. Find out about their interests. Build a relationship based on them. Savvy professionals don’t try to over promote themselves, instead they find commonalities to connect with others.
Pay Close Attention
Listening closely shows courtesy and wins friends. Taking an active interest in someone else can make them equally interested right back.
Be alert and attentive, smile, and make good eye contact, without staring or glaring. Let the other person have the floor without interrupting, but also be prepared to give an opinion or answer questions when called upon.
Building confidence by interacting with other business professionals can do a lot for a career. Networking and mingling is an important part of career advancement. Oh, and don’t forget to bring business cards!
Beatrice Howell is a writer and editor for Phdify.com. Beatrice works with dissertations, essays, articles, reviews, summaries and other students’ work. She helps in university selection and preparation to entry exams.