The difference between being a “regular” versus newbie at a networking event can be level of comfort and therefore effectiveness.
As a regular, you’ve learned the personality of the group, know the rules (if any) and players and have relationships with many. Conversations come easily. You’ve got the routine down.
The newcomer’s experience can be quite different, even overwhelming, feeling like a fish out of water. It’s awkward not knowing anyone and guessing everyone else has found their place at the event. Newcomers may be meandering around or standing by themselves, apprehensive to approach strangers or break into group conversations.
Or maybe you’re neither a regular nor a newcomer yet haven’t found your happy place within the group or at the event.
Here are five activities that make meeting new people super simple, add value, put others at ease and help you find your place as well.
1. Approach and Introduce Yourself
Put yourself in their shoes and recall how you felt as a first-timer. Shake their hand, introduce yourself and ask them if this is their first time at this event. Take a genuine interest in them and ask a few questions to learn their networking goals and why they’re here today. Share a tip to help them get the most out of this particular group. All of this helps break the ice and makes them feel welcomed and supported.
2. Ask How You Can Help
Great business relationships are built on acts of generosity and support. Ask how you can help them in their business today. When they answer, help if you can or connect them with someone who may be able to help.
3. Ask Who They Want To Meet
Find out who would make a good referral partner for them or what resources they need to move their company forward. You might ask, “What’s the one thing you need that would have the greatest impact on your business?” This adds a huge amount of value and works toward establishing a more meaningful connection. This leads to our next few points.
4. Facilitate Introductions
Newcomers can be apprehensive about approaching strangers at events. Take what you know about them and look around the room to see which introductions are appropriate. Consider the help or resources they said they need or who they want to meet. Taking someone under your wing and facilitating introductions makes the process much less daunting for them and you’ll be fondly remembered for your generosity.
5. Follow Up
An important part of networking is following up to continue building the relationship. Exchange contact information and follow up after the event, invite them to the next event, keep them in the loop on any relevant or helpful new information and invite them to do the same. Finally, think about your database and who you can introduce to them after the event.
WHAT’S MISSING? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’D ADD TO THE LIST TO HELP THE FIRST-TIME NETWORKER FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE? Add a comment below.
Becoming the unofficial welcoming committee and approaching newcomers helps all parties cultivate more meaningful business connections and get more out of professional networking. The newcomer feels comfortable and supported, gains more from their networking experience and expands their circle while the regular (or non-regular finding their happy place), stands out from the crowd as generous, lending a helping hand. Everyone wins!
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