What to Say at a Networking Event

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.   –Henry David Thoreau

Going to a networking event can be daunting, and this is primarily because most people don’t set goals for themselves.  Generally, people go to an event because they “need to network more”, but only have a vague idea of what that means.    If you want to be successful at a networking event, you must set goals in advance.  These goals should be both achievable and fun.  Here are some sample goals:

•Make two people laugh out loud

•Be surprised three times

•Say the phrase “What can I do to help you?” to five different people

•Show genuine compassion to at least one other person

•Find two people that you can help during the next seven days with introductions or advice

•Find at least two people that you share in common with a person whom you don’t know

Once you have a set of 3-5 goals, commit not to leave the event until each one of your goals has been accomplished. Take a break at the half-way point and get a drink, or step outside for a few moments for some fresh air.  Relax, and catch your breath, then charge right back into the event.

When you’re done, you’re done. You can go home, or even grab a second drink and stick around. There’s no more pressure and you will have a feeling of accomplishment. You will have not spent the entire event pushing your business card at people or otherwise making them uncomfortable. In essence, you are making them do all the work: the people you speak with will begin to talk about themselves.  Other people are genuinely thankful for this, because they don’t know what to say at networking events, either.  In effect, you are asking them to speak about a topic on which they are an expert: themselves.

As you can see, these are not traditional goals–but don’t you hate traditional networking?  These goals are achievable and fun.  You will begin to genuinely enjoy these events, because you have taken the pressure off yourself and placed all your focus on other people.  Most importantly, you will be remembered in a positive light by those whom you met.

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