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How to be confident at networking events

by Catherine Wasilewski | 7 September 2016

Networking and business development are now an everyday part of being a solicitor as firms look for candidates that can grow their businesses through new opportunities and maintain relationships with current clients. Being able to confidently handle yourself at such events takes practice and it can be daunting for even the most seasoned of us, particularly if you are attending by yourself and do not know the other attendees. 

I experienced this recently at a Summer Party that I was invited to by a Chambers that we work with so I thought it would be useful to put together a list of top tips that can be used to beat the networking fear and get the most out of an event:

  1. Get a list of those attending beforehand – if possible, knowing the attendees beforehand is helpful, in order to help you work out who you might know and also to plan who you want to speak to.
  2. Ask the host to make introductions – if you are in the same situation that I was in that you know the host but nobody else, ask them to introduce you to relevant people.  Arriving early at an event can help with this before they become too busy.
  3. Don’t be afraid to join group conversations but, read the room – people at a networking event are unsurprisingly, probably going to be there to make new connections, so don’t be afraid to join in on others’ conversations.  This is usually easier in larger groups, rather than groups of 2.  Also make sure to read people’s body language to gauge whether it is the right time to interject – avoid those that are stood in a tight circle with closed body language.
  4. Work on your ice breaking techniques – smile and make eye contact and have a list of questions ready that you can pull from when speaking to new people – asking about themselves is always a good way to get people talking, as is using open questions.
  5. Last but not least, don’t forget your business cards! - you never know when you might make a worthy contact and need to hand out your details!  

As with anything, practice makes perfect and the more events you attend, the more it will become second nature.