Corporate events and workshops are perfect opportunities to build mutually beneficial relationships with people who can move your business forward. However, as we have witnessed in some of our own events and those that we attend as part of the business community, many recruiters have a tendency to either cockily turn what could otherwise be meaningful interaction into a shallow sales pitch, or feel like a rabbit in the headlights at the thought of making small talk over a bacon buttie.
Below, we show you 6 steps to work a room and connect with others in a significant and mutually beneficial way:
Step 1. Do your research beforehand
Entering a room full of strangers can be a difficult experience. Be prepared and have a strategy to help you focus. Devise a short, simple way to describe your business, and think about who will be there. Before you go, list the types of contacts, connections, support and suppliers that you need, and check if anyone will be there who can help you. This will enable you to adequately psyche yourself up about how you will introduce yourself and interact, and give you a sense of purpose as you map out the room, meaning less time wasted on trying to figure out who is worth your while.
Step 2. Break the ice with the power of observation
One great way to break the ice is through pin-pointing a fine detail within the event – such as the speakers or décor – and use it to strike up a conversation. For example, if you’re observing a panel discussion and one of the speakers happens to make a cringe-worthy joke, strike up a conversation about it. It’s important to remember that in order for the sharing of opinions to be productive and forward-moving, it has to be a two way street. Remember to give others the platform to express themselves too, and steer clear of controversy. When in doubt, humour is your best friend.
Step 3. Ask questions that demonstrate genuine interest
While talking is a central part of the networking process, it is equally as essential to listen with attention and retain information that could forward your business relationship. Being a good listener means that you can learn about what others want and how best to give it them. Remember that keeping mental notes and repeating back information is a great way to demonstrate that you are listening to understand, rather than respond.
Remember that the chat doesn't have to be all about work. Find out more about a person, where they've traveled from, where they work and what they do. Try to strike some common ground on the topic of the seminar you're attending; how are the finding it so far? What are their thoughts on the speaker?
Step 4. Listen when people speak and take mental notes
Although talking is certainly a central part of the networking process, it is equally as essential to listen with attention and retain information that could forward your business relationship. Being a good listener means that you can learn about what others want and how best to give it them. Remember that keeping mental notes and repeating back information is a great way to demonstrate that you are listening to understand, rather than respond.
Step 5. Ditch the sales pitch
Networking should never be about coldly going out, shoving business cards into people’s hands and selling. In order to engage with someone, you should aim to keep your interaction informal and interesting. The worst thing you can do when networking is turn it into a sales pitch. Networking should be about building a quick rapport. Your interaction should be informal, brief, interesting and leave people wanting to know more. If you do come across a potential customer or someone you think you could work with, pop that in a simple email to them a day or two after meeting up.
Step 6. Follow up, and follow through
If you meet someone in a social setting who could be an incredibly useful contact, your goal should actually be to move the relationship forward—and into that more professional setting. Within a few days of making a new connection, send an email to let that person know you enjoyed meeting him or her, and suggest that you continue your initial conversation over a cup of coffee. For example, you could say, ‘It was lovely to meet and chat to you at the such-and-such conference. I’m keen to hear more about what you do and what you’re working on. Any chance you would fancy meeting for a coffee next week?”
We want you on our team!
Are you an experienced recruiter looking for your next role within the industry? Search Consultancy is a nationwide recruitment agency that offers a wide range of jobs from a variety of specialist industry sectors. If you feel you would be an ideal addition to our team, please do not hesitate to contact our internal recruitment manager, Peter Barry by email – [email protected] Take a look at our recruitment consultant jobs that we have on offer here.