The last quarter of the year marks the start of the peak conference and exhibition season in Singapore! Here are 5 tips to ace the many networking cocktails you will be attending so you can make those crucial connections!
1.Don’t go in blind
Don’t be a man without a plan. Set an agenda detailing who you want to meet. With this in mind, you’ll be able to focus and have fun at the same time. Do some research, get a hold of the guest list (if you can) and ask around on who will be attending. Google or LinkedIn is your best friend. Find out what they look like and it will make it so much easier to zero-in on making that connection. It might be a given, but always remember to stock up on business cards so you can exchange them and develop that connection long after your networking cocktail.
2.Everyone is here for the same reason
Warranted there will always be the ones just here for the free drinks and canapés, but the majority are genuinely here to network, catch up with old friends and meet new and interesting people. Everyone is here for the same reason, so don’t be nervous and approach the session with confidence. We all have to start somewhere and make that first move (sadly we can’t just swipe right). Start with a great introduction and make a good first impression. Conversation starters invite people to respond with more than just a one-word reply. If you are lining up at a buffet line, pass a comment that reveals a little more about you, like “wow, that beef looks really good. I had the best beef steak when I was in Argentina recently”. This may just invite him/her to ask you more. The more common but tried and tested “I don’t think we’ve met before” and “Is it your first time to this conference?” will help you kick things off.
3.What’s his name again?
Imagine this awkward scenario. You suddenly spot a familiar face approaching your group. You recall meeting him at the last conference and you’ve connected on LinkedIn. You panic and frantically open your app discreetly to search for his name. Before you know it, he greets you by your name and you end up embarrassed and having to apologise for forgetting his. This happens to everyone! The easy cheat is when you are in a group to quickly introduce your colleague/friend to him first. This forces your John Doe to introduce himself back and voila, you’ve got his name! It works like a charm every time!
4. Go easy on the drinks
There’s a difference between a bit of liquid courage and getting smashed. An open bar with free flow champagne and wine is still no reason to go to town on the booze. Remember, you are representing your business so act professional. Sip, don’t gulp your drink, or risk ending up the morning after as the next conference celebrity on YouTube with your impression of Michael Jackson!
5.What’s your exit strategy?
The art of networking is as much meeting someone as it is to know when to exit a conversation. Remember you are here to meet people and make new contacts, not just stick to the first person you meet. While it might feel safe and easy to do so, master the art of making a graceful exit and your guest will get the hint. Excusing yourself to go to the restroom or getting another drink always works. Before you leave, remember to thank the person and exchange contacts if you haven’t done so already.
Lastly, remember to smile, be friendly and approachable. Make sure to enjoy yourself in the moment! After all, networking is all about meeting new people and making great connections.