Going to conferences or workshops is such a great way to gain skills and knowledge, network with other people in your industry, and connect with the leaders in your field.
But have you ever avoided going to a networking event because you’d feel awkward attending a function where you don’t know anyone?
Allovus Recruiter Erin St. Pierre has a few tips that will help you get over your trepidation.
Know that everybody feels awkward. Keep that in mind. If you can walk up to someone and start a conversation, then you can bet they’ll be willing to talk.
When you’re waiting in line for the event or waiting in line for a drink at a bar, start a conversation. The people you’re waiting with have nothing else to do! I’ve gotten new job requests, new candidates, etc. in this way. People are so desperate to talk, they will start talking to you.
If you’re early to the event, start chatting with the person next to you. Start a conversation to make things less awkward.
Sometimes people don’t want to talk. But 90% of the time, they’re just on their phones to avoid feeling awkward. It’s okay to ask them a question or say hello. They might be relieved to have someone else to talk with.
At the end of the session, if you’re waiting to talk with a panel speaker, it can feel weird. Form a casual line, stand aside and let the conversation ahead of you finish up. If there are two or more people talking to the speaker, is there something you can say to jump in? You can include yourself if you have something to add to the conversation
Here are some ideas for conversation starters (and enders):
Some conferences of interactive displays: ask someone about them.
“Hi, I’m Erin!”—make an introduction! A friendly face goes a long way.
For conferences that have vendors—start a conversation talking to people who are waiting around the vendor’s booth.
Have business cards ready. Not only are they great for collecting contact information, they are also great when you run out of things to say to someone. Excuse yourself and give them a card to help exit out of the conversation.
Here are a couple other ideas to end a conversation: “Excuse me, I’m going to grab another drink. Or, “Excuse me, I have a friend coming. I’m going to go out to the hall to watch for them.” It’s okay to utilize your polite excuses!
We hope these tips help you out the next time you sign up for a networking event. You’ll be glad you went.