Last week I attended another conference of Primerus law firms. There was a lot of discussion at the conference about how the lawyers and law firms in Primerus could help one another to build their practices, and there were many excellent ideas generated. There were also several sessions on networking and marketing.
It was evident that one of the speakers, Pippa Blakemore of The PEP Partnership LLP in the UK, struck a chord with attendees, since I heard her words repeated numerous times throughout the 3 day conference, particularly at the social/networking events.
Here are some of Pippa's quick networking tips that made an impression on conference attendees (all excellent tips that you'll want to implement if you don't use them already):
When attending a networking event, make it easy for others to see your nametag
(This can be especially important where someone may have met you before, but might not remember your name; the nametag will help them to avoid embarrassment). If the tag is one worn around the neck, wear it high so that it is close to your face, which will not only make it easy to read, but will help people to associate your name with your face.
If the nametag is a pin-on or clip-on one, wear it on your right side - since most people shake with their right hand, your right shoulder will move forward toward the other person and your left shoulder will move away. A nametag worn on the right is much easier to read. (I learned this tip from one of the Deans when I was at Fordham Law School, and I have never forgotten it. In fact, I often annoy others at events by making them change the location of their nametag)
Use body language to determine which groups or individuals to approach
A "closed" group, with people facing directly toward one another or in a tight circle, feet and heads facing directly towards one another, is engaged deeply in conversation and likely not looking for others to join. People in a looser group, formed more in a "V" formation with an opening (see the two ladies in the photo) are signaling that they welcome others to join the conversation.
If it is more comfortable for you to approach a single individual than it is to approach a group, search near the bar or at the edges of the room, where individuals who are new to the group or who do not know many people are likely to be found.
Make an effort to remember names
Often when you are at a networking event and introduce yourself to someone, their name goes in one ear and out the other. Make an effort to not only listen carefully, but to remember names. Pippa says you can get away with asking someone their name again within the first 2 or 3 minutes, but after that, it's simply rude to ask.
Some tips for imprinting the name right away to help you remember include:
- Think of something that rhymes with the name
- Associate the person's name and/or face with a celebrity or someone else you know
- Repeat the name during the conversation
Use business cards as networking tools
If you are at an event with no nametags, you know you've met someone before and don't recall their name, ask for their business card - you can look at it to remind you of their name.
When you meet someone new, ask for their card, but don't just shove it in your pocket or handbag - take the time look at it. Make a comment about the card. It can be about the colors or logo on the card, or a comment about their location ("I see that your office is near the courthouse. That must be convenient."). This will give you an opportunity to look at the card (and their name) a bit longer, and gives an easy way to open the conversation. If the business card lists the other person's business or practice area, you can ask them about that. If not, you can ask them what kind of business they are in, or what areas of law they practice in.
Stuck with someone who won't stop talking at a networking event? Reached an awkward point in your conversation and at a loss for what to talk about next? Backed into a corner with a terrible bore? Or simply looking for a way to move along so you can meet as many people as possible (or one person in particular)? Use these lines to help extricate yourself from the conversation:
- I don't want to monopolize you, so I'll let you mingle.
- Why don't we get a drink/something to eat?
- Who can I introduce you to?
- We were just speaking about ___ (horses); why don't I introduce you to ___ (Jane), who ___ (is an avid equestrian)?
Want more networking tips? Check out these posts:
*Nametag photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/7NudQf
*Women business networking photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/attbKS