Last week, we talked about how to do recon before going into a networking meeting or even a job interview. If you missed that part of this series, now’s a good time to get caught up so you’ll be better equipped at Interpersonal Communication
Understand What You Want
A common struggle I often see at networking events is that some participants seem to have no idea why they are there. Perhaps they showed up for the often two free alcoholic beverages or maybe even the refreshments. I say that because I see them engage in one casual conversation after the other without so much as handing out a business card. They don’t know why they are there and as such, they do not know how to transition to the business at hand. Let’s run through a couple of reasons why you would want to attend a networking event and engage in this level of interpersonal communication.
Build Relationships – If this is a recurring networking event, it might be appropriate for you to focus solely on building relationships rather than transitioning to an ask during the first encounter. If it is not a recurring event, then go for the gold right now. If it is recurring, then do not forget to take notes immediately after you leave the event. You will need this information to further deepen the relationship at the next meeting. Write down any funny anecdotes, number of children, where they went to college and what they currently do professionally. They will take note that you remembered and that you took a genuine interest in them.
Opportunities for a One-on-One – The relationships built at a networking event will almost always be superficial. There are just too many attendees and not enough time to really deepen that connection. So, if your goal is to invite a participant to a one-on-one meet up, you would do well to identify your targets ahead of time. You can be promiscuous with your meetups if you want, but the smarter play is to let the reconnaissance inform you on your most appropriate match. Make it your goal not to leave the meeting without scoring a date with the professional apple of your eye.
Landing a Job Interview – Now, this one is a little more complicated. That is because the conversations you have at the event cannot consist of you talking about yourself at length. However, if your goal is indeed to land a job interview then this is your mission. Once you have identified the influencers and decision-makers you want to reach, work your way into the conversation and give them the floor. Ask them about their biggest business problem and let them speak. Look for an opportunity near the end to let them know that you are very intrigued by their problem. All businesses have problems. You can then ask their permission to contact them after the meeting and explore that further. That is then your opportunity to promote yourself as the solution.
There are a multitude of reasons why you would engage in interpersonal communication and networking. Understanding what you want out of the experience will allow you to customize your approach and be intentional. If it turns out that your goal is merely to grab a couple of drinks and call it work, then so be it. At least you know why you are there. Just don’t drink too much and that goes for everyone.
Next week please join me as I talk a little bit about the fine art of listening. Until then…Get Busy—Get Connected!