A Networking Game Plan

By Carol Campbell
Published on: February 16, 2018

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When I go to conventions or other industry events, I look forward to (and plan for) the networking parties and the times between sessions or keynotes when I can engage people who I think I would like to have in my orbit. As I wrote last week, you can never have too big of a network to draw on when you need advice or are on deadline.

Knowing that I’m likely to run into people I’ve heard of and want to meet, I do my pre-show planning. I try to find out a little bit about the people I want to chat up; what they do, where they’re from, who we know in common, etc. For me (and I’m writing this article because it probably applies to you, too!), I like to be prepared and not just open up with “Hi, I’m Carol. What do you do?” I mean, that’s just lame. So, here are a few things to keep in mind as you lay your game plan out:

I heard you’re great friends with Shelly! She loves working with you! I like to put people at ease, as they are more likely to warm up and not be so guarded or in a defensive posture. So part of how I approach new friends is to make them comfortable and let them talk about themselves a bit.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen at the show so far? Again, a pretty easy question and one that affords my new friend the opportunity to show off their industry chops. Give them the chance to weigh in with a professional opinion.

I heard you’re an avid snow skier! When I talk to someone who tells me I should meet so-and-so, I try to find out one thing that makes that person tick outside of work.

These types of opening ‘invitations to shine’ questions/statements make people feel comfortable. They are more likely to engage with you. I’m not networking to sell myself or my company, I’m there to make a new friend. A new contact. I’m networking and evaluating – does this person engender trust? Do they come off as polite, thoughtful, honest, etc.

To make a short story even shorter – if someone suggests you meet a colleague at an upcoming industry affair, ask a few background questions so you’ll be prepared to break the ice and make that new friend comfortable in their own skin. Ask open-ended questions and let them talk about themselves a little. The bottom line is that you’ll probably turn a stranger into a new contact and quite possibly, a new friend, sooner rather than later.

 

Carol Campbell

Carol Campbell

Carol Campbell is the Managing Director of the Technology Insider Group, Publisher of Technology Designer Magazine, and Executive Director of the Women in Consumer Technology association. She is a publishing, marketing and women’s thought leadership executive with a history of offering outstanding presentation, communication and cross-cultural team management skills.

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