The days we’ve all been waiting for since March 2020 are finally here.
Offices are open. You can browse shops without masks and social distancing. And most importantly for us – meetings and events are a go.
And while we are all excited to once again meet and network with our colleagues and peers we’ve only seen through our laptop webcams for the last two years, it’s important to prepare for the influx of conferences and in-person events coming up.
And there’s no better way to prepare for these in-person meetings than by brushing up on the networking skills you haven’t had to use since 2020.
Here are five helpful tips to help you up your networking game.
- Make Eye Contact
With all the Zoom calls we’ve had to take, it’s been a while since we’ve had to engage in meaningful conversation, and thus, hold strong eye contact with someone new.
Not having someone look you in the eye when you’re speaking can be frustrating, and can leave you feeling unheard and unimportant.
Don’t make this mistake. Avoid it by ensuring you are maintaining strong eye contact during your in-person meetings, both when you are listening to someone and when are you speaking to them.
Start by focusing on the colour of the person’s eyes and hold that eye contact while conversing with them. Soon enough it’ll become natural; practice makes perfect.
Don’t forget: Eye contact is one of the strongest aspects of communication, as it conveys interest. Don’t skip this tip.
- Be Authentic
If you’re going to take the time and effort to get yourself known and out there in your industry, it’s important to express your true and authentic self.
If you’re silly at heart, instead of memorizing your elevator pitch, try throwing in a joke or two to break the ice.
Being professional doesn’t just mean talking shop and business all the time. Let your personality come through, it’ll pay off in more ways than one.
- Aim for Meaningful
Don’t just be a walking sales pitch. Try an approach where you are a new friend or advisor. You’ll find this way you aren’t just gaining clients, you’re gaining true and meaningful relationships with potential clients that will last longer and mean more to you (and them) in the long run.
This is especially important after COVID, as many people have revaluated how and with whom they spend their time and effort on. Your goal at in-person meetings shouldn’t be to get as many business cards as you can, it should be gaining as many meaningful connections as you can.
- Treat yourself
After two years of not really flexing your networking muscles, attending a multi-day or a full-day conference can be draining. We aren’t used to being “on” all day since the pandemic started so going into a conference attending every session, visiting every booth, and meeting dozens of new faces will certainly take its toll. Take a break if you need to. Or book yourself some me-time after the event itself to unwind and recharge.
- Follow up
If you make meaningful connections, make sure to follow up with an email or thank you note. Add your newly-met peers on LinkedIn to stay connected and up-to-date with them.
Showing your sincerity can go a long way to help maintain and keep those valuable connections and relationships.