Small talk, networking, chit-chat. They all mean the same thing: interacting with people you may not know very well all in the name of trying to connect with them to establish a relationship of sorts, preferably a mutually beneficial one. The good news is that you don’t have to dread going to parties anymore for fear of talking about the weather for the fifth time in two hours. There’s a more natural way to forge a connection.
Make networking easier with these tips:
Give Yourself an Objective
Intent matters – it makes you more productive than just talking to random people about random things. Instead, think of a problem you’ve been facing, or challenge you’re looking to overcome. Find someone to help you do that, and you’re off. If you can find out who else will be in attendance at the event, so much the better!
Make It Fun
It’s more than okay to go an event where you don’t know anyone. To keep yourself social and accountable, make a game for yourself – Entrepreneur.com’s Jonathan Jarvis suggests picking a color ahead of time and making sure you talk to everyone wearing that color before you leave. Even though you’re not looking to solve a particular problem, you still have an objective to accomplish before the night is over.
Leave the Shop Talk at the Shop
Which is to say, don’t talk about work. Don’t bring it up, don’t think about it, if possible. You’re here to socialize, and talking business is one of the fastest ways to put a conversation on hold immediately. Instead, ask people about their hobbies, the things they love. The conversation will flow better and give your partner a topic they’re likely much more enthusiastic about. It also gives you a chance to find out things you have in common!
You put time and effort into establishing that new connection! Don’t let all that hard work go to waste – make a point to get in contact with that person after the party’s over. Make a list of all the people you want to follow up with (including the host, for putting on a great event) and send them a little thank-you note, whether that’s via email, a LinkedIn connection request, or even a handwritten note. With the digital world we live in, anything beyond an e-vite forges a stronger connection and demonstrates a greater effort than merely sending an email. It helps you stand out and become more memorable, both of which are to your advantage.