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“Today’s social media options make it easy to avoid getting out there and interacting with others in face-to-face situations,” notes the story “How To Work a Room and Make Lasting Connections,” in The Boston Globe.
Maybe make that too easy. Many people feel like their social skills are better online – where they’re protected by a screen, and where they can wait a few moments to come up with a good quip in the course of a conversation.
But being able to walk into a room of strangers, carry yourself with composure, have conversations that are meaningful and walk out with contacts is a skill that takes practice.
Here are some tips offered by Ellen Keiley, a member of the international law firm K&L Gates, and Richard J. DeAgazio, the former president of Boston Capital Securities, Inc., in their Globe story:
- Review the guest list in advance, if you can. The event coordinator is the person to ask.
- Decide on a networking goal, such as a particular person to meet.
- Prepare a brief description of yourself to use when introducing yourself.
- Put your name tag on your upper right lapel, which is where people lean into when they shake your hand.
- Ask open-ended questions, even the basic “how did you learn about this event?” Be a good listener.
- Put your business cards in one pocket and the ones you receive in another.
- Approach guest speakers before their talks, when they’re less likely to be surrounded.
Networking is “all about relationship building,” write Keiley and DeAgazio, who also is founder of a networking and relationship development consultancy. “Events are a place to see and be seen, and the more you go to them, the better you will get.”