Net­work­ing at busi­ness events is still one of the best ways to make con­nec­tions. Shepa Learn­ing Co. CEO and net­work­ing guru Darcy Rezac and Rob Prowse, ad­junct pro­fes­sor of or­ga­ni­za­tional be­hav­iour and hu­man re­sources at UBC'S Sauder School of Busi­ness, e

BC Business Magazine - - Contents - by Felic­ity Stone

From meet­ing and greet­ing to do­ing your re­search, how to work a room


Stand at the front, look for some­one who's not tied up in a con­ver­sa­tion, then go over and talk to them, Rezac ad­vises. “Be care­ful of the pounce,” Prowse says. “Some­times we can come across as be­ing a lit­tle too as­sertive and even ag­gres­sive.” To join a group, do what Rezac calls the 28-sec­ond hover. “Find a friendly-look­ing group and just hover for, we say, 28 sec­onds be­cause you can't stand it any longer than that, and try and make eye con­tact with some­body so they'll open the cir­cle and let you in,” he ex­plains. “When you're in a cir­cle talk­ing to peo­ple that you know, widen your cir­cle and in­vite peo­ple in. You're there to make con­tact.”


Look peo­ple in the eye, use a good firm hand­shake, and tell them your name. In case you've met some­one be­fore and for­got­ten, say, “Nice to see you” or “Good to see you,” Rezac coun­sels. If they re­spond, “Nice to meet you,” ask for their name and ex­change busi­ness cards. If they in­di­cate you've al­ready met, it helps to be net­work­ing with a tag team­mate who can put out their hand and say, “Hello, my name is... I didn't get your name.” “I call that the step-for­ward res­cue,” Rezac says. “That hap­pens a lot.”


Re­search who's at­tend­ing, and find a de­tail about them to break the ice, Prowse sug­gests. Ask open-ended ques­tions that en­gage peo­ple and feel less like an in­ter­ro­ga­tion, and pri­or­i­tize qual­ity con­ver­sa­tion over quan­tity of con­tacts. “Of­ten­times when it's a re­ally great-qual­ity con­ver­sa­tion at a net­work­ing event, peo­ple talk about that per­son, so you're broad­en­ing your im­pres­sion with peo­ple you haven't even met,” Prowse says. “Even one or two peo­ple could have an im­pact of up to a fac­tor of nine.”


“If you're in the lineup at the buf­fet, that's a good place to make first con­tact,” Rezac says. “Say hello to the per­son next to you, and then you can catch up with them later.” Prowse rec­om­mends hold­ing your food in your left hand and keep­ing your right one free so you can shake hands. “Fifty-five per cent of the way we com­mu­ni­cate is around body lan­guage, so mak­ing sure that you're not fum­bling is send­ing a very pro­fes­sional mes­sage,” he notes. Rezac's take: “Your first im­pres­sion is about three sec­onds, and it's very dif­fi­cult to undo a bad im­pres­sion.”


If you're go­ing to an event to rep­re­sent the com­pany, it's im­por­tant to have busi­ness cards so peo­ple will re­mem­ber who you are, Rezac says. Don't rum­mage for your cards, Prowse warns—keep them handy, and wear some­thing fash­ion­able but not loud. “If you don't want to make a state­ment with cloth­ing, then de­pend­ing on the brand with your busi­ness, there can be a state­ment made with your busi­ness card where peo­ple go, `That's a re­ally cool logo,'” he adds.

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