Dirty Dance your way to great business networking!
Who like me was brought believing we should never talk to strangers? This can be a limiting belief when it comes to successful business networking!
Everyone present has gone along to make new contacts and chances are some will be suffering from severe nervousness. There isn’t a person in the room who wants to be ‘Billy no mates’. Some are just more uncomfortable at walking over to people they don’t know and saying hello.
This topic may have already filled you with dread, but it needn’t be scary. To help, let me take you to the cinema to see one of my favourite films Dirty Dancing and give you some tips on how to open up conversations with strangers and make new contacts (you may recognise a few lines).
The reason people treat me like I'm nothin' is because I'm nothin'… a positive attitude is essential. Think about your objective in attending and look forward to the new contacts you are going to make. Don’t fear meeting others and think they are any better than you just because they have been networking longer.
No-one puts baby in a corner….avoid standing in a corner as you make yourself harder to spot. You may also subconsciously be sending out a ‘leave me alone’ message. You need to make your approach to others with a smile on your face and good eye contact.
This is my dance space…when you walk up to someone to introduce yourself make sure you leave a gap and don’t invade their personal space. We all have a different requirement for an acceptable distance so be guided by them. If you go too close they will pull back; let them. If you move closer again you will make for a brief or uncomfortable conversation.
What's your real name, Baby?...introduce yourself with your first name. No need for your full name it sounds too formal but no nicknames either.
God wouldn't have given you maracas if He didn't want you to shake 'em… and he wouldn’t have given you ears if he didn’t want you to listen. Listening is a key networking skill. Ask questions and see what you can discover about people.
I carried a Water Melon…during open networking you will be shaking hands, receiving and giving business cards and possibly holding a drink. This is enough to juggle so avoid carry anything else. Make sure handbags have shoulder straps, coats need to be popped in the cloakroom and iPad and laptops left in the office. Leaflets are not needed at this stage; they get in the way and send out a signal that you are only interested in selling which is not the first impression you want to make.
Oh, it's *mine*, right? Right away you think it's *mine*...be careful not to make assumptions. Ask questions and find out the facts. Some of the most amazing, fun and valuable contacts I have made at networking events looked very unassuming and dare I say a little boring when I first saw them.
Me? I'm scared of everything. most of all I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you…There is nothing worse than getting back to the office wishing you had made more of an opportunity that presented itself. It’s so much harder and sometimes impossible to go back afterwards. Don’t be scared, grasp the nettle now.
This is not a tragedy. A tragedy is three men trapped in a mine, or police dogs used in Birmingham… if it doesn’t go as well as you hoped don’t worry. Think about what you would do differently next time and get booked in to another event asap.
Enjoy dancing your way around the networking room and don’t forget to let us know how you got on with the Pachenga!