A few years have rolled by since I went to a presentation on networking by Robyn Henderson. I still successfully use these eight strategies to great advantage. Let me share them with you.
1. When you get an invitation - whether it be for a conference, seminar, networking event - don't decide if you want to go solely based on what the speaker /topic will be. Instead think about who is going to be there:
This will change your decision process and make these functions much more attractive because of whom you can meet, network with and learn from.
2. People will think you're interesting if you ask them interesting questions. Here's a trick: move from past to present to future questions. For example:
• Past - So you've been with the company x years. What changes have you seen?
• Present - What challenges do you have?
• Future - What trends do you foresee?
3. If you're speaking with someone and want to move on, look for another person / group nearby. Say "Oh they / that person looks interesting. Let's ask them to join us". Then act like a host and introduce whom you're with stating their name, and an interesting piece of information about them (as a talking point). As they start to converse, make your exit.
4. Help them remember your name better
Studies show people often forget the first 15 seconds of a conversation so they have already forgotten who you are. At a natural pause in the conversation casually drop in "You may not have caught my name earlier. It ..."
5. The follow-up note
Maybe the single most important thing you can do in networking is sending a quick note the next day. This stands out as few people bother to do it. It shows that you took the time to write a personal note and that you not only remember the conversation but really valued it. It also serves to remind the person of who you are and what you do.
6. It's easy to get to know your host on the Internet
Only enter a room once you know the background of your host and any guests you want to meet. This takes just a few moments on the Internet but gives you the leading edge (plus something to talk about).
7. It's easy to find the hot topics in the industry of your host online
You are never going to look boorish when you ask knowledgeable questions about your hosts business.
8. Want to be interesting and knowledgeable?
Read the paper every day, in hand or online. Even if only for a few minutes and you only read the lead paragraphs.