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Last updated March 22, 2017

If you are anything like me, attending a networking event or meeting a lot of new people at once can be a little intimidating. Once I get started I am fine, but sometimes I need a little help to kick off. Here are a few tips to make your next encounter a little easier on the nerves:

First Impressions
Try to smile and look directly at people – I know it’s easier to hide in the corner but it’s not going to help you meet people. Stand where people can see you and look approachable; smiling makes you look more attractive and people are much more likely to want to talk to you if you look happy.

Remembering Names
My husband is hopeless at remembering names! But he knows it, and whenever he meets someone new, he looks directly at them, shakes their hand and starts the conversation by repeating their name. Other cool tricks include asking about where the name is from, or how it is spelt, or associating it with someone else you know. Don’t just hand over a business card – people will forget you!

Getting Started
Asking a question is a great way to get the conversation flowing so here are some ideas to try:

  • Is this the first time you have been to this meeting/event?
  • How did you get into ______?
  • Have you heard this speaker before? Sounds really interesting.
  • How did you hear about this event?
  • What line of work are you in?
  • What a great place! Have you ever been here before?
  • What are you hoping to get out of today?

Your Story
An elevator speech is a short description about what you do and your ‘why’ and it’s your best way to make a first impression. Practice and develop what you say to people in that first conversation because it could lead to all sorts of opportunities. Even if you have one sorted, it can always be improved and updated.

Networking is such a vital tool in the non-profit sector but it is a skill that many of us have to work at. It does get easier, and soon you will be reaping the rewards.

Rosie Julou
Rosie is the General Manager at Exult and works behind the scenes planning, organising and making everything run smoothly.  She is passionate about working in the community sector.

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