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6 Ways to Survive Your Next Business Networking Event

In my personal vision of hell, I’m in large, red party room filled with hundreds of 3-year old children trying to feed me burnt mac and cheese, Phil Collins playing “In The Air Tonight” live on stage, and two gargantuan spiders are serving appetizers — and most importantly, everyone, and I mean everyone there is networking.

Unless you’re a self-assured, anxiety-free superhuman, networking probably isn’t your idea of fun. Awkwardly schmoozing with a roomful of strangers who will droll on about their jobs while expecting compliments can sound awful, and maybe even a bit like a family reunion. Yet, from time to time, your loving, caring boss may require you to attend one of these events, which leaves you with two options:

  1. Go into hiding (preferred option)
  2. Learn to survive in the wilderness that is business socialization

Hint – pick #2, because in any given networking room there are dozens of influential business people. That means hundreds of thousands of dollars in purchasing power and dozens of job opportunities just waiting for you to reach out and grab them. Don’t think of it as a networking event, think of it as a job fair.

Besides, networking isn’t so hard when you have a good game plan before you walk in. Here are the 6 best strategies for making more contacts and feeling less awkward at these events.

1. Get there on time

You might be tempted to show up late to these things just so you don’t have to bear them as long, but I wouldn’t advise it. Showing up on time allows you to get comfortable with your surroundings and, thus, feel less awkward sooner. Plus, the beginning of these events is likely the most important part because you get an early opportunity to scope out who’s going to show up, and maybe even work up the nerve to talk to a big-wig while they’re alone.

2. Don’t be afraid to use very, very dumb conversation starters

Unless you’re like boring the people around you, it’s usually not advisable to begin conversations by talking about the weather. Networking events, however, are absolutely the exception. You need to start talking to someone, at any cost, and the hardest part is just getting up the nerve to say anything. Remember, you’re in a room full of people who came there just to engage in conversations with others. As long as you show you’re willing to talk, they’ll be happy to oblige! Don’t worry how you start the conversation, just start it.

3. Get in a line

Waiting in line for food or drinks is a great way to avoid feeling anxious while meeting new people. Most of the awkwardness at these events comes from feeling like you don’t have anything to do, getting in a queue gives you a temporary purpose, and you’re naturally surrounded by people with whom you share some common ground (you’re all standing in a line). Not sure what to talk about? Refer back to #2…

4. Be a scavenger

At some point or another during the night, you’ll likely find yourself alone, and it may feel as though the rest of the room has paired off to talk. If you spot someone circling around (aka a shark), wait for them to talk to someone and join the conversation with them. This may feel powerfully weird (and, in practice, it is weird for a few seconds), but piggybacking onto a conversation is one of the best ways to enter because you’ll end up making contacts with two or more people at once.

5. Listen

Most networkers are extremely extroverted, talkative people who aren’t afraid to describe their business in detail, sometimes at length. Want to stand out from the crowd? Listen to them. Ask constructive questions. One of the most important things you can give to a conversational partner is the feeling that you understand them and their business. The more you’re able to cultivate that feeling, the more leads and job offers you’ll receive.

6. Make yourself memorable

Even if you have a really interesting job, when you’re asked “What do you do?”, you’ll most likely be tempted to downplay it. If you have something unique about you, say something about it! There is a time to be modest, and this is not it. If you’ve worked with a cool client recently, or if you’re making an interesting new product, or if your start-up has a cool mission statement, make sure to mention it in conversation. It might feel overly self-promotional, but the fact of the matter is that you’re far more likely to be remembered in the future if you stand out from the crowd now.

That’s all for now. Best of luck with your next networking event! Look for me while you’re there, I’ll be the one standing in all the lines.

Casey Ark is the 22-year-old owner of Plato Web Design (http://platowebdesign.com), a full-service custom web design agency located in Harrisburg, PA. Casey has over 9 years of experience in web design, development, and print design. When he’s not slouched over his desk making websites, he’s writing about business management, web security, and web development.

Bad Habits of Good Negotiators

A negotiation begins when two parties involves share information. The thing is that most individuals are matchers. This means that they behave in accordance with the rule of reciprocity: they will treat you exactly how you treat them. Therefore, if you want these people to have faith in you, you need to show that you have faith in them.

If you are interested in getting data, you have to start by offering data. However, it’s not a good idea to share data that could put you in a vulnerable position. Luckily, you can opt for two great methods in order to stay away from such scenarios.

Don’t reveal information that can be used against you

First of all, we have the selective information-sharing method. According to it, you have to share only data that can’t be utilized against you. When you start by revealing something private, you let the other party see that you are reliable, and this will make them want to respond by revealing something personal about themselves.

Rank-ordering

This method means that you have to list your concerns based on their significance. For instance, when you are at an interview for a potential job, you can state that remuneration is most significant to you, followed by other aspects such as location, and vacation days. Studies have proven that rank-ordering is an excellent method to help other parties know your interests without having to share too much data. Then, you can invite them to state their main concerns in order to find a solution that is advantageous for both parties. The problem is that you have the possibility to come across these win-win solutions only if you don’t discuss the problems separately. Unfortunately, numerous business people want to negotiate the problems individually and this doesn’t bring perfect results.

Decision regarding first move in negotiation

After all parties share have shared their concerns, someone has to come up with an offer. Many people wonder if it’s a good idea to be the first to make the offer, or allow the other party to make the first move. This situation is debatable and it depends on the scenario; studies have shown that most people think that it’s not a good idea to make the first business move. However, you should bear in mind that if you hearten the other party to make an offer, you could make them think they have an advantage.

Don’t put your negotiation in danger

You should know that opening offers are the ones that establish the tone for the discussion. When the opening offer is stated, our attention goes into that direction, and it’s pretty hard to focus on our own opinion. Plus, apart from establishing the tone, the opening offer features another two great advantages. First, it indicates self-assurance and power, and then it gives way more flexibility to compromise without having to accept a bad deal.

Obviously, the trustworthiness of your opening offer is related to the reasonable justification that you have in order to support it. Note that if you exaggerate, you might offend the other party, and you can jeopardize the negotiation.

Don’t go over-the-top

When business people choose to make the opening offer, they tend to go over-the-top. They struggle so much to explain their offer that they get lost between ideas. Experts should state their point of view in the clearest way possible. Note that if you offer plenty of arguments, the other party might think that you are unsure of your proposal. An efficient opening offer is sustained by one or maximum two convincing arguments.

Prepare for the unexpected

You can’t be prepared to make the first offer all the time. There will be cases when your other party will speak first and present an exaggerated opening offer. In this case, you can either make a counteroffer that is just as exaggerated as theirs, or you can solicit an explanation. Additionally, you can let them know that their opening offer is immoderate and that you don’t find it acceptable.

Good negotiators have bad habits too, and their goal is to win the bigger share of the prize. The business world can be extremely challenging as competition is everywhere. Try to be reasonable and always think about your competitor when negotiator. Keep your calm, ask reasonable questions and keep your explanations short. In the end, you’ll certain get a fruitful business negotiation deal.

Jason Phillips wrote this article. He is a writer with great interest in business, gadgets and technology. He is a part of site http://www.thegappartnership.com.hk/ which provides workshops on negotiation.