Networking is part of our marketing activity, so we will spend time and money on this activity – and it is important we don’t waste these two resources. Let's look at the steps to take if we are to make really good use of our time. What must be done to “work the room” ?
- Don’t waste time by sticking with your colleagues, say “good bye” at the door and arrange to meet up with them at the end of the event.
- At least for some of the time, position yourself by the drinks, offering to pour coffee etc for new arrivals. This is a great way of breaking the ice and establishing yourself as an all-round “good person to know”.
- Approach people who are standing on their own by using a relaxing, possibly banal ice-breaker involving the location, the weather, the event etc. Try to put them at their ease by asking them open questions about themselves and later introduce them to other delegates.
- Where two people are head-on, face-to-face, they do not want to be interrupted, so don’t! This is known as a “Closed Two”, so instead look for a pair who are almost side-by-side, known as an “Open Two”. They are clearly approachable, so waste no time doing so.
- Most groups of three will have an open section, so have no qualms about pushing in – and then if possible get one of the three to introduce you to the others.
- Avoid getting monopolised by one delegate. You cannot afford to spend too long with the same people – so firmly but politely pass them on to someone you already know.
Your priority is to meet a number of new contacts, develop relationships with existing contacts, and raise your profile – in a courteous, dignified way. Of course you should not merely run around the room, throwing business cards at people – but you must use your time sensibly.