You Don’t Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression
For those of you who frequent social events, whether for work or play, this little pearl of wisdom is a motto to live by. At a work-related event, it is not uncommon for many of the people you meet to decide by the end of your first conversation whether they will consider working with you in the future. Consequently, the idea of walking into a crowded room full of strangers and making a fabulous impression is enough to give even the most seasoned networking gurus a bad case of the butterflies. Flying solo at an event may seem an insurmountable task, but with a little preparation and the right mindset, you can enjoy yourself and build lasting business relationships in the process.
Whether attending an event on your own or with colleagues, try to break out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to as many people as you can. It may be tempting to stay huddled in one group all night talking to the same few people, but the point is to get face time with as many people as possible and everyone is there for the same purpose. You are dressed to impress and have a brand new stack of business cards burning a hole in your pocket, so don’t be afraid to work the room and show them what you have to offer!
To network effectively and impress those important professional contacts, stay focused and take a genuine interest in the people you are meeting. By listening intently, responding directly and maintaining eye contact, the conversation and your connection will have the opportunity to flourish.
When trying to make an impression that will last long after the crowd disperses, don’t rely on a tedious, rehearsed spiel about your professional experience to achieve the desired effect. Concentrate on a few key words, including your name and your company name, and instead of repeating your usual list of accolades verbatim, let them know why you would be an asset to their organization and what you have to offer that makes you a standout in the sea of stuffy suits vying to work with them. Create value for others and you will create value for yourself. A crucial side note: when part of a group conversation, bypass the urge to pipe in at random intervals just to remind everyone of your presence. One eloquent, well-informed statement will have much more of an impact and you will avoid appearing as though you just awkwardly stumbled into the conversation a la Bridget Jones.