Attire Accessories -Jul/Aug 2018 (Issue 71)

ATTIRE 117 MARKETING you don’t know anyone there, you need to inject yourself into the conversation. Be proactive. Act like you belong. Pretend it’s your event and you’re the host. Say hello to people, ask them how they’re doing, if they’re new and so on. Focus on those who also look lost or intimated and introduce yourself to them. You’ll probably have an easier time talking with someone who is also a little nervous. Ask open-ended questions The easiest way to get the conversation flowing is simply to ask questions. Most people at these events love to talk, so by sitting back and asking about them, you can guide the conversation, keep the other person engaged and learn more about them in the process. One query often leads to another, and another, and before you know it, you’ve made a good connection and built a strong rapport. Give your full attention It’s tempting to continue scanning the room while you talk with someone, but this is a great way to make that person feel two inches tall. When you’re with a person, give them your undivided attention, just as you would expect them to do with you. Keep up-to-date on current events The conversations at networking events often focus on current affairs. You might hear people talking about tech news, sports, world news or even music culture. It’s important that you try and stay up-to-date so you can join in. You don’t need to be an expert. You just need to know enough to hang with everyone else. Spend a little time each day browsing the news. Always shake hands Research suggests that shaking someone’s hand may increase the chances of having a positive interaction. This not only enhances the positive effect, it also diminishes the impact of a negative impression. Many of our social interactions go wrong for one reason or another, and a simple handshake preceding them can give a boost and attenuate the negative impact of possible misunderstandings. Do not, under any circumstances, ditch a conversation partner for someone you deem more important I understand the temptation to weasel your way out of a dead-end conversation in order to talk with that CEO who just walked into the room. While there’s nothing wrong with subtly steering a conversation to a close, abruptly ending it to speak with someone ‘better’ is a definite networking faux pas. Smile Smiling conveys happiness, openness and confidence, and it can also help you to actually feel happier. Smile liberally to make yourself as approachable as possible. Follow up within 72 hours If you’ve promised to send information or connect with someone, a good rule of thumb is to do so within 72 hours of the event. Waiting any longer may unintentionally convey disinterest. Have fun No one wants to talk to someone who looks miserable. If you’re projecting a good attitude, you’ll naturally attract others. I’ve heard of people who ask bizarre icebreaker questions to make the other person laugh. You don’t have to be serious and robotic, spitting out your elevator pitch to everyone that walks up to you. Relax and have some fun. Michael O’Connor Grey Sergeant