Listen. Whenever you have an opportunity to network directly, be sure to listen well. A good networker is a good listener who focuses on the person they are talking to and nothing (or no one) else in the room. Limit your monologue and encourage them to talk. Whatever you do, no matter how excited or enamored of this person’s expertise/importance you are, don’t jump to conclusions about what they’re going to say next and try to fill it in for them. Remain calm and let them do the talking.
- Stay positive and don’t fear pauses.
- Maintain eye contact, nod, and use “open” body language (don’t fold your arms across your chest, etc.).
- Don’t be afraid to take notes – especially if you’ve promised to follow up on something. Jotting down a quick note shows your enthusiasm and willingness to do what you’ve promised. It also ensures that you won’t forget!
- Enjoy the diverse conversations. Each event is an opportunity to meet different types of people and learn new and interesting things.
If need be, excuse yourself gracefully. There will be times when you simply need to end a conversation. Thank the person you’ve been speaking with for their time, excuse yourself politely, and move on.
Follow up within a week. If you can, call or send a brief message to the people you met at Convention within the first seven days. If you can mention something relevant to a topic you shared, even better. This will show that you’re interested in what they said and that you’re willing to share information.
Stay in touch by email and/or phone. Anything can happen here. Keep the channels of communication flowing whenever you can; not everyone maintains good contacts after a networking event and they miss enormous opportunities.