On November 26th, the 3rd year BComm students from the University of Victoria will get a chance to put their networking skills to the test at the annual Business Banquet.
Readers of this blog will recall that things didn’t go all that well last year in the reception hall at the start of the evening. So we met recently to come up with a game plan for working the room this year.
Among the suggestions (which anyone might find helpful when faced with the daunting task of introducing yourself to a roomful of business heavyweights):
- Have plenty of business cards.
- Arrive early. It will get harder to break into ongoing conversations as the evening progresses.
- Nurse a drink. Alcohol may give confidence but it’s a judgement thief.
- This is not dating. You are not looking for phone numbers here.
- As an ice breaker, thank the person you’re talking to for coming. Acknowledge that the event is cutting into their personal and family time.
- Listen. Networking is all about getting to know new people, and you can’t get to know someone when you’re yammering on about yourself.
- Try to stick to business. Leave the talk about sports teams and weather to the TV news anchors.
- Don’t ask them if there’s a job at their company for you!
- Nervous wreck? Work the room with a buddy until you loosen up.
- Stuck in a dud conversation? Sneak a glance around for someone you might invite to join in. The chemistry may change and if it doesn’t, you can slide out without leaving the person you were talking to all alone.
Main thing to remember is that the people you are meeting are humans, even though they may seem terrifying. Treat them the way you wish to be treated.
And for heaven sakes, don’t kiss their rings.
Once the evening is over, it’s time to add your new connections to Linkedin and follow up with emails of appreciation to everyone you got a business card from. It’s not enough to feel good about the evening. You have to make it count for something.