Navigating a corporate event can be challenging, but how do your networking skills translate when volunteering at your kindergartener’s carnival?
I once attended a little league game and casually asked one of the other moms about how she spent her time. We were a hodgepodge of parents from various backgrounds. I quickly learned she was a pediatric physical therapist’s assistant who completed home visits in a 10 block radius of our home city. She was passionate and thoughtful as she described some of her heartbreaking encounters with the low-income families she served daily.
Our conversation didn’t feel like networking, but that’s exactly what it was. Now that we are emerging from 15 months away from kids sports games and PTA meetings, it’s time to revisit how we engage with others in person.
If you are attending an event where introductions are a must, knowing how to make yourself and others comfortable is the key to success. Here are a few quick ideas to use to put everyone at ease:
Be Curious. Asking “How do you spend your time” reveals a lot about someone else. One person I met recently built an outreach program to feed homeless people. It’s not how he earned money, but it was a real conversation starter.
Be a Listener. When we are too worried about what others think, we stay focused on ourselves. But listening--really listening--tamps down our nerves and amps up our engagement.
Be Interesting. We are all more interesting than we think. Remember at least 3 unique fun facts about yourself to share with new acquaintances.
Be Helpful. Making yourself feel useful is a great way to meet people and avoid standing in a corner or sitting by yourself. If you see someone who looks uncomfortable, say hello, point out the coach, your favorite teacher, or even where the locker rooms are then offer a fun fact about yourself.
Networking is about building relationships, not about business cards and social media contacts. Smoothly navigating those awkward moments helps.
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Executive Mom Nest advisor, professor, speaker, and author Alison Nissen is the executive director of Branded Interviews, a platform that creates video business cards, webinars, and courses for authors, coaches, and entrepreneurs. She is also the co-founder and president of Revel Coach, a career growth platform and author of the 2016 RPLA Unpublished Memoir of the Year Resolve, Courage, Hope. Follow her Tales from the Laundry Room @ alisonnissen.com.