Do you struggle with networking? The thought of making small talk with complete strangers may make you uncomfortable or even downright terrified. You know that meeting new people and expanding your circle is important, but sometimes it’s hard to get up the desire to drag yourself to a networking event, like a trade show or conference. After of more than a year working remotely, being back to in-person events can be intimidating. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why we’ve put together our top three tips for making networking easier and more successful:
If the idea of networking is intimidating or overwhelming, you may be tempted to show up to the event late. But that’s the exact opposite of what you should do. Instead of arriving late, try getting there 30 minutes early. You’ll likely find a much smaller (and less overwhelming) crowd and fewer people already engaged in conversation.
Give Yourself a Time Limit
You know you should go to the networking event at the conference you’re attending this summer, but an entire evening dedicated to making small talk with strangers may feel like too much to handle. The easiest solution? Don’t stay for the whole evening. Maybe you can’t do the whole evening, but you can probably handle one hour. Even a little bit of networking is better than none at all. Give yourself a time limit. Promise yourself you’ll stay at least that long, then give yourself an easy out—go catch a movie or grab a quiet dinner by yourself. Of course, if you find an interesting group of people to talk to, you can always stay longer.
Don’t “Work the Room”
You may have heard people use this phrase in connection to networking. Networking and working the room may appear similar on the surface, but the two tactics have entirely different purposes. Working the room is a tactic for politicians and people running fundraisers who need to make every person in the room feel noticed and want to be seen mingling.
Networking, on the other hand, is all about starting and building relationships. So don’t try to meet everyone at a networking event. Don’t bother trying to collect 70 business cards or memorizing the name of every person in the room. Instead of worrying about how to start dozens of little conversations, focus on a few engaging conversations with two or three people. Those are the kind of interactions that people will remember once the conference is over. Memorable conversations provide a much better foundation for a future working relationship — which is the entire point of networking.
Not sure where you’ll have a chance to try out these networking tips? We’ve got a whole list of great accounting events happening the rest of the year. Check it out here.