If you’re planning on traveling for business—congratulations!
There’s nothing better than hitting the open road to experience new people, places, and events.
What’s even better is that traveling for work will likely also open you up to some awesome new networking opportunities.
But here’s the issue.
Sometimes, networking isn’t necessarily easy.
Between first-meetup awkwardness, nervous jitters, or maybe even a natural case of ‘introversion,’ it isn’t always obvious how to navigate these networking opportunities in the most ‘streamlined’ manner.
So in this post, you’re going to learn exactly how to get it done—step by step.
Let’s break it down and get you networking like a true pro!
1. Be A Social Butterfly
We hate to say it, but if you want to capitalize on your networking opportunities to the best of your ability, you’re going to need to open up a bit and be at least a little bit sociable.
This means that when attending events or meeting with other teams, you’re going to want to be proactive about walking up to people and making contact.
2. Form Connections Quickly And Easily
Believe it or not, most people are actually pretty painfully introverted and shy.
Therefore, it’s always in your best interest to take responsibility for making connections.
When you see someone who you know you should probably connect with, walk right up to them—make eye contact—smile—and reach out for a handshake.
This is a simple series of steps, but it truly makes all the difference.
Also, don’t forget to stand up straight, with your shoulders back.
This will really give off a confident vibe, and make you seem like the kind of person who’s likely important to connect with!
Need a few additional body-language pointers? Check out this article by Thejobnetwork.com.
3. Ask Questions
You always want to resist the urge to walk up to someone and shove a business card in their hand.
Instead, ask them a few questions to help get the conversation going.
You can start off with anything.
You can ask about the weather, how they’re enjoying the event, what they thought of that last speaker—whatever you can think of to break the ice.
Then, you’ll want to transition to asking them more specifically about what they do, and who they’re with.
Also, don’t forget to try to remember their name.
For best results, repeat their name back to them once or twice during the greeting, just to make sure that you remember it.
It can be pretty embarrassing to forget someone’s name right after they’ve shared it with you.
4. Move The Connection Forward
If you meet someone who may prove to be a valuable connection, consider moving the encounter forward with an invitation to convene again at a later date.
If you’re at a busy conference or event, this is best facilitated after a few moments of truly connecting conversation and easily detectable mutual interest.
You can propose such a meeting by saying something like this.
“Hey, I know that this next speaker is starting in a minute. But I’d love to get your card. Also, are you free after the event tonight? I’d love to buy you dinner and pick your brain about that project you’re working on!”
Just exchange information—and try to nail down a time and a place for the follow-up meeting.
If you can manage to secure the meet-up, congratulations! You just turned a connection prospect into a one-on-one meeting where even more genuine human connection (and potential business) can occur.
Note: If you’re buying dinner for a business connection, you may be able to write it off on your taxes or use per diem to pay for it. For more in-depth answers to questions like this, consider checking out Hotel Engine’s in-depth guide on the topic: Per Diem and Taxes: Top 7 Frequently Asked Questions (With Answers).
5. Nurture The Connection And Be ‘Human’
A lot of people mess up with business networking when they try too hard to ‘do business’ and not hard enough to ‘just connect on a human level.’
Don’t forget—every potential customer, client, colleague, partner, etc. is also a human.
And when you treat this person like a human, as opposed to just some random mechanism that can help you to advance your business goals—well, that’s actually a powerful secret to effective networking that can really help you to meet with greater long-term success.
Hopefully, these 5 tips will help to take some of the nervousness out of your next networking event.
You’ve got this!
All that’s left now is to get out there and make it happen.
We believe in you.