7 Networking tips

I stumbled upon an old personal diary over the weekend. The diary was from 1994 when I was 28 years old. I decided to take a stroll down memory lane.

Within minutes I was laughing my head off. I was also completely amazed.

I went out a lot back then. I was extremely social.

Every night (though I occasionally stayed home on Monday nights) I was out. Movies, dinners, shows, social club work functions, you name it.

I was a social butterfly.

Recently I’ve been somewhat less social. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my life has changed over the last couple of years. I’ve been heavily focused on my writing and blogging goals.

Writing is a solitary pursuit. While people do collaborate on certain writing projects, it tends to be something you do on your own. In my case often in silence because it helps me concentrate. It’s not exactly party central. Not that I am complaining, I love my new lifestyle.

However, with an overseas conference approaching, I’ve started thinking about the networking and social side of the conference.

Here are my 7 tips on networking after reading through my old diary.

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Don’t drink too much

A few too many entries in my old diary start with the words – bad hangover.

I admit I drank too much and too often back then.

This is something I will be acutely aware of as I attend the conference.

Firstly I don’t want to do anything embarrassing (which as we all know is more likely to happen when you have had a few). Secondly, I want to remember the people I meet and talk to.

What’s the point of meeting all of these amazing people and learning new skills and information if you don’t remember it later?

I also don’t want anyone to remember me for all the wrong reasons.

Embrace the one on one

Even back when I was 28 I enjoyed meeting people one on one.

This probably explains why I went out so often in the first place, because I had a lot of friends to catch up with and I enjoyed talking to them privately.

Talking one on one gives you the chance to talk more openly. You are more likely to confide in someone and have a more in-depth conversation when you are not part of a large group.

When two people are talking it gives them an opportunity to connect.

This is going to be interesting from a conference point of view since there will be a lot of people all wanting the same thing.

Quiet areas or private moments may be hard to come by.  I imagine the best chance for a one-on-one conversation will be to book meetings for breakfast, lunch, or dinner before, after, or during the conference.

Related post – How to Have a Two Way Conversation

Go the large group

The times when the one on one went out the window were work social functions and my birthday parties.

I had some epic birthday celebrations.

I would gather a group of wonderful friends at a fantastic Sydney restaurant and let the night unfold. I would flit around the room talking to everyone.

At one birthday, my 30th I think, I made a habit of sitting on everyone’s lap and having my photo taken. While I won’t be sitting on anyone’s lap at the conference, I will be trying to socialize with some of the larger groups.

Of course, this is fundamentally where networking gets tricky.

With birthday and work functions I pretty much knew everyone. If people bought along a friend I didn’t know I was quick to introduce myself and say hello.

At a conference, it’s completely different since you may have never met anyone before, or at least not in person.

My plan is to reach out to as many of my existing online friends that are going to the event, then it won’t feel so much like meeting strangers, as meeting friends for the first time.

Don’t feel intimidated

I used to have a boyfriend who was very outgoing. He was the sort of person who made everyone laugh.

He loved being the center of attention.

Whenever we went out in a group, his best friend hardly said a word. I used to think his friend was incredibly shy until years later when I met him one on one.

He wasn’t shy.

He simply chose to step back when someone else was taking center stage, which meant most of the time when his best friend was around. He probably felt he couldn’t be as funny or as entertaining. He may have felt like he couldn’t compete or be heard, so he simply gave up.

Once I got to know him better, I realized he had a lot to add to conversations.

It can be difficult but try not to feel intimidated by big personalities who monopolize the conversation.

Related post – It’s Not All About You

Don’t monopolize the conversation

You saw that one coming didn’t you?

I have experienced this a few times myself.  You go out with a group and someone comments at the end of the night about how quiet you were.

Sometimes it’s not about you being quiet, it’s about someone else not being quiet enough!

I’m sure you know what I mean. There was one person doing all of the talking (about themselves normally) and you couldn’t get a word in, so you stopped trying.

Keep trying. Perhaps break off into a sub-group to talk to other people if possible.

If you are the person doing all of the talking, ease up for a moment. Let someone else have a turn.  The conversation will be much more interesting if you let other people participate.

Related post – Want to Have Better Conversations? Stop Doing This One Thing

Be Yourself

Whether we like to admit it, we can act differently around different people.

Not only that but people see us at different stages of our life and assume that is who we are now or were in the past.

I’ll give you an example of a conversation that occurred between two of my close friends who met for the first time on a night out.

New friend – ‘It’s great to see her coming out of her shell.’

Old friend (from time in the diary) – ‘What do you mean?  She’s always like that!’

They were both talking about me (from two different perspectives).

The important thing is to be yourself and act appropriately for the situation. Obviously, you are going to act differently in a business situation as opposed to a backyard barbecue with friends.

In a work situation strive to be friendly, professional, and interesting.

Related postAre You Afraid to Be Yourself?

Keep Learning

I have a lot to learn about networking and socializing for business.

As a Personal Assistant, I was the one organizing large social functions (also a valuable skill I might add) though I didn’t always get to attend them.

Since I understand networking and socializing are not the same beasts, I will definitely be asking my friends who attend conferences regularly for some tips.

As for me, on a socializing level, I need to reignite my inner social butterfly, dress her up and take her to the party!

Is there a social aspect of yourself that needs to be reignited to help your business or career along?

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