When you start to go to Networking Meetings, it is very hard to start conversations, so a couple of ideas to help: approach people who are standing alone, ask if you may join them and introduce yourself.

They are probably just as nervous as you are – and will be grateful for the attention.

When you introduce yourself to someone, speak slowly and clearly so that people will remember your name and what you do.

Read people’s badges and use their name in the conversation to help you to remember it. Don’t overuse it – because it will make people feel uncomfortable.

Wear your badge on your right-hand side as high up as possible.

Most people shake hands with their right hand and when shaking hands with the right hand the right shoulder moves forward, thus projecting your name badge.

In conversation always talk about their business first, before talking about your business. Ask questions about them – see if your product or service can fit into their needs or if you can refer them to someone who may be better positioned to help.

Don’t just thrust your business card at people; ask for their business card before offering yours. The aim of the game is not to see how many cards you can collect.

Look at the business card when it is handed to you and carefully read the person’s name, paying attention to their job title.

Jot a note on the back of the card about where you met the person or something that you were going to do for them; especially if you were going to send them some information or make a call to arrange an appointment.

It’s far too easy to get back to the office with a pocket full of business cards and not remember what you were going to do and which card was from that hot lead!

Keep your own business cards in one pocket and the cards you receive in another pocket. Always make sure your cards are clean and uncreased. Remember to present your card the right way round so that the person you are giving it to can read it immediately.

Look for open groups that you can easily join and never interrupt a conversation between two people who are obviously having a serious discussion.

If you want to join a group, wait for a gap in the conversation. If it is a general conversation, they will move apart to welcome you, giving you the opportunity to introduce yourself.

The person you are talking to is the most important person in the room, focus on them and don’t look over their shoulder for ‘more interesting’ company.

Don’t hog anyone’s time. You are there to mingle and find new contacts.

Ten minutes is the maximum you should be talking with each person.

Do the math – at a two-hour networking event with 40 people present and spending ten minutes talking, you’ll be able to meet with 12 people – only 30% of the people there, and that’s without taking a comfort break, or collecting food and drink etc

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