Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Becoming the Most Popular Person at a Networking Event

I noticed a long time ago that some individuals at every event are always in the middle of the networking action. And, so many times it is the same individuals appearing at multiple events. How do they do that? What do they know about working a room that I need to learn?

It turns out their secret (which was not much of a secret at all) is they knew how to become a hub in the midst of people looking for connections and conversations. I've talked with many of them, dug around in their heads, and emerged with what has worked for them. Here is their simple advise:
  • Arrive on time.
  • As the bulk of the guests were arriving observe how they flow into the reception area to see where they linger and cluster.
  • Identify a few people you know and watch where they went.
  • Say hello to folks as they arrive but avoid getting onto extended conversations early so that you can continue to watch the opening interactions.
  • Once you have a good feel for how the event will flow seek out people you know, begin a conversation, and start working yourself to the center of networking action.
Now, here comes the secret sauce:
  • Start making introductions. Reach out as people go by and introduce them to whom you are talking to.
  • Do it over, and over and over again.
  • From time to time excuse yourself, grab somebody (politely) and walk them to another contact they would like to meet.
  • Repeat
These "super-connected" people all said the same thing. Their success at any event came by being the matchmaker and not trying to be matched. They all stated their reward came in the days after any event -- from all of the people they helped.