Contributed by Karen Rodriguez - Exec-Comm
Fall is quickly approaching and it’s a great time to attend networking events and conferences. With summer activities coming to a close, you can refocus on meeting new people in your industry and getting out there to support your career and business improvement goals. Do you cringe at the thought? Don’t shy away from these opportunities.
Well-honed communication skills will reduce your anxiety and help you expand your network. Here are a few tips to help you strike up more conversations with new contacts in the months ahead:
Study the headlines. Before heading to the event, scan the headlines and note a few potential topics to discuss.
Maintain eye contact. When introducing yourself, smile and look into the person’s eyes as you speak your name and they say theirs. As the conversation continues, keep your focus on the person you are talking with. Don’t scan the room looking for friends or others to meet.
Gesture openly. Avoid crossing your arms or clutching your drink with both hands as you talk. Instead, keep your hands apart and your arms relaxed. Gesturing makes you appear natural and approachable.
Ask a few questions. Sometimes you’ll need to jumpstart their side of the conversation. Try asking an open-ended question like “What are you hoping to learn here today?” If their answer is short, build on the information they’ve just shared.
Find a connection. As they’re answering your questions, find an element to pick up on. You’re listening for something to keep the conversation going. Find common ground and the conversation will continue without effort.
Speak slowly and pause. Keep the dialogue moving at a casual pace. If you talk too quickly, the listener will strain to keep up or may interpret your speedy delivery as a sign of nervousness.
Disengage politely. After a few minutes, it’s perfectly fine to close the conversation. Exchange contact information, if you’d like. Ask them to join you on a trip to the buffet. Or, simply smile, tell them you enjoyed chatting and move on.
We hope you had a great summer and more importantly, we hope you have the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people in the fall and winter months ahead. Just start with “hello” and go from there.
Global HR Leaders! Please consider attending the NCHRA Global Workforce Conference in Santa Clara on September 15. Qualifies for 6 SHRM PDCs / 6 HRCI Recertification Credits - Global and General . Read more about the agenda and Register Today! Discover innovative ideas for managing key aspects of Global HR, and leave the Global Workforce Conference armed with tactics for succeeding in today’s border-less workforce. Come learn and network with a friend and your friend will receive 50% registration ($270 NCHRA members, General $340).
About the Author
As the manager of the Exec-Comm
brand, marketing and design efforts, Karen Rodriguez oversees the firm’s identity, touching all aspects of the brand (online presence and web site, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events). Since joining Exec-Comm in 1999 and entering into partnership status in 2009, she introduced (and still manages) the firm’s blog, The Chat, launched the company's quarterly lunch and learn series: The Learning Exchange, and its open-enrollment seminars in New York and San Francisco. Karen holds a B.F.A. from Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, and lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.