2016-03-04 networking

Network As If No One Is Watching

Well, not exactly. Social media and email can’t quite replace good ol’ in-person networking. Even introverts can successfully make meaningful connections. So while you’re in New Orleans for GMN2016 use these tips for a smooth and productive networking experience.

  1. Sign up for one of the many dine arounds that take place on Tuesday evening at 6:45 p.m. It’s an informal way to meet people while keeping your hands busy with the bread. You gotta eat, right? Sign-up sheets will be posted in the exhibit hall.
  2. Go to networking events with a buddy. It takes the pressure off you individually, and you’ll always have someone to talk to. Separate for 20 minutes, then circle back and meet the people your buddy has met and vice versa.
  3. When you introduce yourself, repeat the other person’s name. Then use their name again in the conversation so you won’t forget it. I used to be good with names, but then something called aging happened. I find this lather-rinse-repeat method works pretty well.
  4. Devise a quick way to introduce yourself…but don’t just self-promote. If it makes you feel more comfortable, practice your intro as if you are placing a first-time Starbucks order, but be sure to venture to other topics that are of mutual interest.
  5. Have a few conversation starters ready. Ask what their biggest challenge is right now and share your own similar experience. Tell them that you saw them in a particular session, and what did they take away from the discussion? Or, find out what city they are from and what attractions you should visit when you go there.
  6. To keep the conversation going, avoid asking closed-ended questions. Yes/no questions won’t cut it. Ask what’s the best session they’ve attended so far, or when they attended their first GMN conference.
  7. Be a good listener. Active listening and a genuine show of interest are effective ways to engage with others and learn something at the same time.
  8. But if the conversation is going nowhere (or has come to a natural end), avoid an awkward exit by saying politely saying “let me let you talk to other people,” asking for a business card, and thanking them by name. Show your style and grace.
  9. Think about networking as connecting. “Networking” can seem daunting. I think E.M. Forster had it right when he wrote about the value of the human connection. You’re in this conference, and this profession, together.
  10. Bring plenty of business cards and comfortable shoes, and keep both handy. No one wants to fumble for a piece of paper and a pen or stand on aching feet.
  11. Mints. You can never carry too many mints.

 

 

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Carolyn Sosnowski

Carolyn J. Sosnowski, MLIS, is content manager for GMN. Follow her on Twitter @TheRealCarolynS.