There is a huge challenge at the initial stage of interaction between strangers.It is a stage of reckoning, a stage of do or leave; something that borders awkwardness, fear of rejection, and beauty of opening new links that may change your life for good. Many fumble with words; masking their inadequacies with lame excuses in order to get away from the conversation. Others start on the wrong foot and end up ruining a conversation that would have yielded so many good things. Here are 7 strategies on networking etiquette: simple tactics to make initiating and ending a networking conversation smoother.
- Starting a conversation
Normally a simple introduction can transition into a solid conversation if only you are willing to share a bit of yourself right from the beginning and not being personal at the same time.
Example: Hi, I’m Soliana and I work with Company X as a Social Marketer. My role has been super challenging lately because of all the new regulations around internet connectivity. How have you been dealing with that?
- Making a friend
Usually if it is a networking event you can find a friend to stick by your side as you connect with people. Asking someone to explore different areas with you is a nice way to talk and network with others under less pressure.
- Seeking advice
Reality is, if you are interested in a new opportunity or area of work, networking is a great way to get more information. Never be afraid to ask someone sincere questions after giving some background on why you are interested.
The icebreakers above can be the launching pad you need to start networking and feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar situation. But unless you are lucky enough to stumble into your soul mate at such an event, you will eventually need a natural way to exit a conversation. A good rule of the thumb is to talk for 5-10 minutes and then move on.Some closing statements that are polite but still get the point across that it is time to hit the road are:
- Making an honest get-away plan
Sometimes, even when you’ve met someone interesting, the time comes when you’re ready to peruse the rest of the event. Saying you are going to the restroom, or to get something to eat, or refill your drink is one of the oldest tricks in the book. However, being honest with your exit can go a long way. You can wrap your conversation by thanking the person for their time and letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them.
Example: ‘Please excuse me, I want to catch Kidus, my former colleague, to say hello before he leaves.” Saying you’re headed off to connect with someone else is perfectly reasonable since it’s a networking event, and the fact that you actually intend to follow through on what you’re saying will make you sound more sincere as you make your exit.
- To Connect later on
When someone you’ve met seems like a valuable contact, make sure you exchange information before you part. You can even suggest a future meeting to speak one-on-one.
- Schedule time to follow up
Another humane way out is to ask for the person’s contact information, and make plans to follow up and continue the conversation later. Offer a handshake, look the person in the eye, smile, and say something such as, ‘Beti, it was great to meet you tonight. I do want to connect with a few other folks while I am here, but can we exchange contact information to stay in touch.’
Mentioning the person’s name will make them feel recognized and help you remember their name in the future. However, don’t try this approach unless you actually intend to reach out. You don’t want to lead anyone on.
- To Get Advice and Get out of the Door
A new contact can be a valuable resource, but that doesn’t mean you spend all your time there. When it’s time to part ways, be honest that you’d like to follow up at a later date, and then say a polite goodbye.
A good example: Mikael, I’m in a tricky stage in my career and wonder if I could pick your brain for advice over lunch some time soon. I need to say hello to a few others here, but can we plan to connect next week?
Networking isn’t always smooth sailing. However learning how to start and close conversations is one of the best ways to master this important networking skill. With any luck, you’ll make some connections, you’ll find some event buddies, and you’ll gain some helpful professional resources.
Source : Ethiojobs