You don’t have to be an extrovert
If you’ve read last week’s news and views post, you’ll remember that informal networking is a hugely important part of attending any conference. The extroverts amongst us make it look like a breeze; comfortably exchanging pleasantries over morning scones and effortlessly schmoozing the night away at the gala dinner.
For many people though, even the ‘natural extroverts’, striking up a casual conversation with a stranger can be a little awkward and more than a little clunky. In preparation for the conference, I’ve interrogated a few natural extroverts for their top-tips on networking.
Prepare and practice
Preparing ahead for ‘possible conversations with strangers’ may sound a little crazy…but you’d be surprised how a few easy to recall phrases can ease you into and out of any conversation. Much as the conference speakers will have rehearsed their presentation, the skilled conversationalists out there have well practised conversation openers and closers.
And don’t forget to smile!
Question and listen
If you know that chit-chat isn’t your strong point, identifying a few back-up topics should save you from faltering. The best thing you have in common is the conference, which provides you with a wealth of openers (best session so far, sessions you want to attend etc).
A few reminders…
- It’s obvious but it bears repeating…don’t get legless at the gala dinner. Your memory might be a little hazy the morning after, but someone will remember exactly what you said/did.
- When enquiring where a stranger is from…don’t respond to their reply ‘well someone had to be’ or with any regional stereotype (Kiwis and sheep spring to mind). It’s a great opportunity to show interest.
- Remember that you might be sharing outrageous gossip with someone who may be a prospective boss, colleague or staff member in the future. If in doubt, leave the (scandal/slander) out!
We are all looking forward to meeting new people at the Conference and catching up with those we haven’t seen for a while.
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