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Covert Munkey

Aug 26, 2007
Networking tips

Networking Tips

First impressions are vital when networking. Breaking into a group of strangers is cited as being one of the most challenging of them all. So how do you interrupt a group without causing offence? Using the following tips as a guideline I am sure it will become a whole lot easier. The main skill I use here is the art of observation.

Breaking into a group that is already engaged in conversation:

Be comfortable standing on your own so that you do not feel rushed to join "any" group.
Get yourself a drink/food (not both at the same time) and simply observe the people in the room.
Once you have selected the group you want to join note the intensity of the conversation.
If they are "locked" with good eye contact and positive body language then step away from their immediate vision.

If you are keen to join this particular group because you want to meet a particular person then wait at a distance and watch for the conversation to change.
Often someone else will join you, and if this happens I always share with them what I am looking to do and elicit their support (people love helping people).

Once the intensity in the conversation has changed walk into the group.
If the conversation is still happening, simply nod your "acceptance" and listen to whoever is speaking.

Join in the conversation with your body and eye language and show interest, even ask questions. I treat it like joining a film halfway through, careful listening and you will soon catch up!
Do not change the tone, pace or "steal" the conversation away from another person.
Only offer to shake hands if the conversation turns to you and people are keen to find out who you are.

Once the conversation changes to bring you into the group, then introduce yourself and shake hands if appropriate.

If you only wanted to meet a particular person say so - example being "I've been keen to meet you for some time, but can see that you are busy right now. May I offer you my business card, may I have yours, and I will call you next week for a quick chat?"
If you have something of real importance to say then do so at this point.

If you have joined the group to develop a conversation with new people then of course introduce yourself in the way you would normally do this.

Often HR forums allow consultants and specialists to join their groups and it is very important that this is not abused - so I always recommend a code of ethics and "never sell" rather "establish long-term relationships".

Ask questions to learn and understand about your clients and their profession.
Normally I only exchange cards if I am asked or have made a strong connection with someone.

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