Hello fellow professionals out there!
Today’s topic is on effective business networking.
Last week I attended an H.R. (Human Resources)-related networking function here in Toronto, as the guest speaker was the author of a book I had first read a few years ago and I really enjoyed the positive message about living life to the fullest, and having great communication skills (at least that’s what I got out of it). The book is called Tapping the Iceberg by Tim Cork, and I highly recommend it. Anyway, I went to this networking function to see if I could get my book signed (which I did) and maybe meet some HR professionals who might be interested in learning more about how communication coaching could benefit their company executives and managers, or how a group workshop can be both cost-effective and beneficial to their staff training.
I met as many people as I could without rushing conversations, and I asked for introductions to others whom I had not met. I politely interrupted some people (with a smile) to include myself in their conversations, and I spent time with them in deep, meaningful learning exchanges, complete with a swapping of cards.
While I was there I noticed that some people seemed to be a bit shy starting conversations with people they had not met yet (i.e. “strangers”), even though we had name-tags on.
Now I understand that it can be difficult for some people to make small talk with strangers. That is why I have a course on how to overcome that social challenge. However the interesting thing to me is that this particular event was specifically set up to network, and even focused on one industry (HR) – which one might assume would increase the level of comfort in the room even among strangers. Not so I guess. There were still those who were wallflowers and who were just talking to their friends and only engaged with others if approached first.
The lesson I want to share with you is to remember that at networking events you have a choice: be a Guest or be The Host. A guest sits waiting for others to take care of them, and a host pro-actively ensures others are having a good time and meets and greets constantly. The host is remembered and the guest is often not, especially at a large event. You are there for a short time and with a mission – to find and build connections. There is no reason to be shy with starting conversations with a smile and no reason why you don’t have the right to pursue career advancement by networking. Networking at a networking event is like shooting fish in a barrel – as long as you are not shy with the trigger.
Be The Host.