A City Hive Event kindly sponsored by: Pictet AM, Eaton Vance IM, Janus Henderson & Cleveland & Co.
Few people really enjoy networking, do they? It's a necessary part of being a grown up professional. At City Hive, we like our events to take the usefulbits of networking, where you connect with like-minded or well-placedindividuals, and we make them more palatable with pithy exchanges and delicioussnacks.
It can’t always be that way, alas, so we asked communications professional Jayne Constantinis to guide us throughsome of the common agonies and pitfalls of being in a poorly-lit room ofstrangers, who apparently have all known each other for years.
These tips can be particularly helpful if you are an introvertand find networking not impossible, but tiring and difficult. Remember there isalways someone in the room who feels as awkward as you do. It can be temptingto get the phone out and look busy, but you are signalling to anotherperson not to talk to you, and could be missing out on a great connection.
What I have found helpful is giving myself a target – talk tofive people and you can go and hide in your room!
We shared a host of other tips and hints that included:
· Know the audience – if you can see the guestlist before hand, single out the people you think are helpful to speak to.
· Be an advert for yourself – don’t fumble over anintroduction, think of a compelling fact about yourself and practice saying it.
· Use the room as a prop – you can always be onyour way to the snack table or the bathroom. You can also strategically placeyourself near the food, to increase the chance of a conversation.
· Be prepared – read up on the local area, thinkabout the topics you might have in common such as the conference you are at, interestingfeatures in the room or building. The weather, of course, is always fair game.
· Look for entry points in groups – some peoplewill be standing loosely together, facing outwards and receptive to a guest.You can also do this when you are talking to someone, to invite newcomers in.
· Have neutral ways to join the conversation –agree with the point being made, or note your interest. Murmur to the person nextto you, if the size of the group feels intimidating.
· Create conversational stepping stones – in yourhead look for the next natural conversational segue, so that you aren’t leftstaring quietly at your canape. Topics where almost anyone can contributeinclude food – eating out, cooking, shopping.
· And most importantly, don't forget to listen!
Many conversations will have a natural end. Be confident and honest when you are ready to moveon. You can always take your partner with you! Perhaps arrangeto drop a follow up email - try to remember a detail from the conversation to create a common ground.
We practiced these tips over drinks and some amazing brownies. A late entrant to our event might have thought we’d all knoweach other for years. In fact, many of us were talking for the first time andhad plenty to say about the food!
Practical advice is central to our masterclass sessions. If you found these tips useful, do joinus at our next event!
Find Jayne at http://www.jayneconstantinis.com/