We have all been there. You are at a networking event and step into a large room filled with 250 strangers. The anxiety sets in. TMS Colorado manages multiple associations’ events and we’ve witnessed this time and time again. Take a deep breath…a room full of unfamiliar faces can be very intimidating but here are a few tips on how to work a room to make the most of your networking event.
- Determine three goals for the event that you want to accomplish. Some possible goals might include connecting with an old contact, giving your business card to a new prospect, or meeting three new contacts.
- Do your research beforehand. If possible, obtain a list of attendees so you can select a few people you would like to connect with at the event. If you know the event organizer, ask for a warm introduction to one of your prospects.
- Scope out prime networking locations. The bar, the food table and even the registration desk are usually great places to strike up conversations at large events.
- Target individuals and smaller groups. When you enter the room, look for individuals who are standing alone and might be eager to engage in a conversation with you. You should also seek out smaller groups of people who are facing outward and appear to be having a casual conversation.
- Body language is everything. Pay close attention to your body language so you appear as welcoming as possible. This means not folding your arms, maintaining eye contact and keeping a pleasant smile on your face. And, when you are introduced to someone, make sure your handshake is strong but not crushing.
- Break the ice. There are many ways to strike up a conversation with a fellow attendee, including asking what he or she thought of the previous session, commenting on the venue, or inquiring about why they are attending the event.
- Ask open ended questions to keep a conversation going and avoid questions that only require a “yes” or “no” answer.
- Don’t be cliquey. If you are lucky enough to know many of the event attendees, go out of your way to meet someone new, or sit at a table with people you don’t know.
What techniques have you found most helpful? Please post your suggestions in the comments section. For more advice on how to work a room, please contact TMS Colorado at 303-216-0472. We are a boutique agency for event and association management.