How to effectively network without rambling, staying silent or apologising?

With lockdown restrictions easing and people potentially returning to their offices, this may lead to socially-distanced networking events. Yet the same old question remains: how do we effectively network?

Some of you may already know how to effectively network, but here are five tips for those of you who need help with it.

1) See the speakers as normal professionals, not as interviewers.

You might put pressure on yourselves to come up with an eloquent introduction before you approach the speakers as you feel that this your only chance to impress them.

However, your aim should not be to impress the speakers otherwise you start seeing them as interviewers. Instead, your aim should be to ask them about their role and employer to find out whether you would fit into their workplace, and you should more importantly just see them as normal professionals who you want to find out more about.

2) Focus on the speakers, not on the snacks.

How many of us are guilty of spending all our networking time eating snacks rather than approaching the speakers?

While it is understandable to eat provided snacks after listening to the speakers speak for a long time, you should not spend all your time just doing that.

If you spend your whole time eating snacks, you not only waste valuable networking time, but you also disrespect the speakers. These speakers have woken up early, travelled a long way and put much time and effort into preparing a speech for you, so imagine how irritated they will be if they see you completely ignore them and go straight to the food.

3) Know when and when not to talk.

Sometimes, effective networking is just knowing when and when not to talk.

For example, if you feel that you have been rambling about yourself and can see that the speaker wants to say something (but is too polite to interrupt), then you should stop talking and allow them to talk.

Conversely, if you feel that that you have been quiet and can see that the speaker wants you to talk but is prolonging their talking to politely avoid the “awkward silence”, then you should speak more.

You also need to consider that the speakers may take time to come up with their responses, so try not to interrupt them if they pause as they are just thinking about what to say.

4) Ask the speakers questions about their job, employer and recruitment process.

Even though you should introduce yourself to the speakers and tell them about your work experiences, it is important to not let the conversation just be about you.

You should ask the speakers about their job, employer and recruitment process not only to make them more comfortable speaking to you, but also for you to learn about what they do, what their workplace is like and how to successfully pass their recruitment stages.

*On a side note, do not say “sorry” before you ask the speakers a question as it makes you appear unconfident and also because you should not apologise for mustering the courage to approach them.*

5) Get the speakers’ contact details.

After you have finished speaking to the speakers, make sure to get their contact details in case you want to later ask them for a CV review, a referral or application support.

Hopefully, you now feel more prepared after reading these tips. Aside from that, good luck with networking in future socially-distanced networking events.

Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

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