How to Make Friends at Conferences and Networking Events!
In one of their lessons, Epicodius had some tips on how to connect and meet other folks at networking events. I thought the suggestions were totally on-point — They were specifically aimed at those of us who are introverts and have limited experience (or are apprehensive) in meeting new people.
So, below is a summary of some of their suggestions as well as many of my own!
- Attend Events That Attract People Whose Interests, Aspirations, and Values Align With Your Own: This is very self-explanatory. But here are 2 examples to hammer it in: If I want to meet people with great social skills, I’m more likely to find that at a Dale Carnegie seminar or marketing conference than a Bitcoin confab. Secondly, if I want to meet doctors and scientist interested in a cure for Alzheimer’s, I’m going to attend conferences catering to that demographic. It’s unlikely that neuroscientists and Alzheimer’s researchers will be attending hackathons and bitcoin meetups. In summary:
- Place Yourself in Environments and Situations That will Enable to Make the Relationships you want
- Make a Great First Impression: Smile, stretch out your hand, and introduce yourself! Networking events are job interviews, but you’re in control of who you meet. Be on your best behaviour. Dress appropriately, bring business cards, and be professional in all conversations.
- Be an Active Listener: Show genuine interest in the person by looking them in the eye. Nodding and agreeing with what they say. Repeating back to them what they say, and asking them questions to draw them out.
- Let the other person do all the talking: Only chat about yourself if they specifically ask you
- The easiest way to make a friend is giving people what they need: What most of us need and crave is to feel that we matter, are important, receive words of affirmation, and know that others think highly of us.
- The best way to make friends is to make others feel good about themselves
- Generously give words of affirmation and Seek common ground: by saying “…You’re so on-point with that. You are so insightful. I 100% agree with you! That was brilliant. That is so impressive! You want to convey that you are like them and share their values and interests.
- To improve your social skills read Dale Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People. In a nutshell, the premise of the book is to Love your neighbor as yourself
On that note, if you are speaking to someone who is very negative change the subject. If that doesn’t work, take the lead and end the interaction in a friendly way. If the person is aggressive in their personalty and overly dominates the conversation, again take the lead and end the interaction. People are supposed to be on their best behavior at these events.