Networking is a necessary part of business, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Striking up conversation with complete strangers at conferences or events can be difficult, even more so if you struggle with anxiety. But there are things you can do to make the process not so bad. Here are five ways to better network at events even when you don’t know anyone, from ED2010.com.
Find others in the same position
Chances are, if you’re attending an event solo, you’re not the only one. When you see someone sitting alone in a corner, make a move and stick out your hand. He or she will likely be glad you did.
Attend varied events
The more diverse the events you go to, the better your chances are at finding people who can teach you something new and interesting. When you’re always around the same sort of people, it can be difficult to strike up a subject that will keep someone talking. Admit when you’re not so familiar about the event topic and ask someone for his or her added insight.
Dress like you mean it
Let’s not pretend we don’t judge books by their cover … at least a little bit. Dress the way you want others to perceive you. Likeminded people may naturally gravitate toward you if you do.
Have business cards ready
This is a no-brainer, but never attend an event without business cards, even if you’re not really planning to connect with anyone new. It’s common for someone to ask for your business card after chatting for the first time, and you don’t want to lose that connection—or worse—seem unprepared.
There’s nothing strange about practicing your introduction before meeting others. Think about what you want people to know about you in a short amount of time, besides your name and title. What makes you stand out as a professional? Did you just finish a big project, read an interesting article, or learn about a relevant trend? All these things can lead to longer conversation, or at least, make you more memorable to others.