Networking can seem intimidating, especially for those who are still new to it. However, making a good impression at a networking event can actually be quite easy and straightforward. One of the most important aspects of networking to remember is mannerisms. In order to give a memorable first impression, you need to follow the basic dos and don’ts of networking etiquette.
Do: Use body language
Body language often speaks louder about our attitudes, ideas and thoughts than words. For example, while you can say to your audience that you are enthusiastic to be there and see them, if your eyes are often wandering or you have an impassive expression, then your words are no longer convincing. People often take body language as a more accurate indicator for your honest thoughts and feelings than spoken words. Thus, it is important to align your body language with what you are saying. Make sure that you make constant eye contact with them, use open body language (don’t fold your arms) and stand directly in front of them to ensure that you have their complete attention. These visual cues helps you and the people you are talking to feel more comfortable and the conversation will seem more genuine.
Don’t: Just stick to a list of questions
While it is always recommended for you to have a set list of questions to ask when you finally meet up with a professional, you also have to be careful about the fluidity of your conversation. If the conversation flows naturally, then try not to jump to the next question you have on your list. By constantly jumping to your list of questions, you can disrupt the natural fluidity of the conversation and it can become awkward and stilted. Additionally, by allowing the conversation to flow smoothly, you can show to the person you are talking to that you are a good listener and easy to interact with, rather than someone who just wants to know all of the answers to their questions.
Do: Understand the company
Companies will always be impressed if you are able to showcase in depth knowledge about the companies’ values and operations. In order to understand the company better, try to either talk to current and former workers of the company, or go to their website and scroll through their ‘about us’ page. By doing this, you would be able to gain valuable knowledge about the company and their values, which you can mention or discuss when you actually see them. If you are able to display your extensive knowledge about the company, then you will be able to stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression. Furthermore, by showing that you know the company and their values, you are able to effectively highlight your enthusiasm.
Don’t: Focus your attention on yourself
Most people are at risk at falling for the trap where they ignore the people who they are talking to and only talk about themselves. You want to avoid this as it comes off as self-centred. While it may seem tempting to talk about your key skills and achievements to impress the professionals you are talking to, always remember to restrain yourself at times. By asking questions about others and allowing them to speak about themselves and their companies, you will show to them that you are a good listener and are genuinely interested in them and their companies. You will also have an opportunity to learn from their experiences and pick up tips along the way. There are many different questions you can ask them to understand them better, such as their roles, their companies, what past experiences they have had.
So there you have the basic networking dos and don’ts. Try them out at your next networking event.