How to make the most of networking at Convention
There are networking opportunities aplenty at Fundraising Convention, as fundraisers from far and wide come together and share ideas and learn from one another. But do you dread walking into a room full of strangers tasked with networking? Why should you bother? Where do you start? What can you do to get the most out of it? Here are my top tips for making the most of networking at Convention.
Smiling can lift your mood and give you more confidence. So I would advise you to smile before you enter the room to help get yourself into a positive mindset. Smiling can also help put others at ease, meaning they may be more likely to strike up a conversation with you.
Make eye contact
It might seem simple but making eye contact is absolutely essential to good face to face communication. It shows that you are paying attention, that you’re interested and that you are listening to what the others are saying.
It can be all too tempting to stand at the edge of the room and wait for someone to approach you. However, to get the most out of networking you need to embrace the opportunity. To join a group, simply ask, ‘May I join you?’. I’ve never been at a networking event where anyone has ever said no. If you’re worried about getting a conversation started, a simple question to go with is, ‘What’s brought you to Convention?’. It’s a great way to get people to open up about their interests.
Know your worth
Everyone knows the benefits of networking – it raises your profile, you can grow your connections, you can seek advice and it can help you to see things from a different perspective. But it’s all too easy to forget that it’s also a great way to help others by sharing your own advice and experiences. So it’s important to know your worth. Often, sharing your own advice and experiences can be more rewarding than solving your own problems.
We’ve all been there, where you’re stuck chatting to someone who just talks about themselves. So, remember it’s important to ask questions. Networking is all about good communication so it’s important to ensure that communication is always two-way and that it’s engaging for both parties.
Don’t be afraid to wrap up a conversation
The more people you talk to the more you’ll get out of it so don’t be afraid to wrap up a conversation. You could thank them for their time and ask how is best to keep in touch, you could offer to make an introduction or simply say that you’ve enjoyed the chat.
Networking is just the start. Remember to follow up with the people you have spoken to. Whether you drop them an email or connect via social media, it’s important that you find a way to keep in contact.
Frances Lawrence, Fundraising Convention Board member and Head of Fundraising at Girlguiding UK