Forget Me Not: How to Make Yourself Memorable at Your Next Networking Do
For any seasoned networker, meeting new people is pretty unremarkable territory. You’ll be introduced, exchange a few pleasantries, and assuming there’s no reason to connect on a professional level there and then, there’s every chance you’ll forget them – and it’s entirely possible they’ll forget you too. While this doesn’t really matter on a personal level, it does mean that, should that person require your skills or talent in the future, you won’t be one of the people they think of.
We’ve all been to networking events, however, where someone really stood out for all the right reasons – and to this day we still remember who they are and what they do. So how did they do it? And how can YOU do the same, while landing yourself in the contact lists of every mover and shaker in town?
Sell yourself – but not too hard
The whole point of a networking event is to promote yourself and forge useful connections. So know in advance the key things that make you, your work, your brand or your product special – and know how to deliver that efficiently in a conversation. You don’t want to turn people off with a lengthy rehearsed monologue though. So give them enough to be impressed, and a reason to ask more.
Keep the conversation interesting. If it moves away from professional topics, avoid rattling on about boring stuff like the weather or what’s on telly. You want to create further conversation, rather than kill one.
Let your personality shine through
In most industries people like to work with people – not just their skills or talents. While a strait-laced and professional demeanour might be a perfect fit for a stuffy, formal corporate affair, it won’t do you any favours during most networking events.
While we don’t recommend necking free gins, climbing on a table and singing Ethel Merman at the top of your lungs, it’s important you let your personality come out to play so people can get an idea of who you are – not just what you do. Feel free to be bubbly and funny if that’s who you are. You may find you connect more with certain people on a personal level rather than a professional one. Consequently that might mean they think of you when they need you professionally in the future.
Be curious and ask questions
Curiosity doesn’t kill anyone at a networking event. Rather than asking what someone does and leaving it there, delve into it. Be sincere in your interest and find out what that person’s skills are and what they’ve done. Get their story. Compliment them, without brown-nosing. Ask what their plans are – without resorting to lines like “What’s your passion project?”
In terms of human psychology, most people enjoy talking about themselves – especially if someone’s showing a genuine interest. So if you give people the airtime to share their story, they’ll like you a bit more for it – and probably remember you too.
Be positive, for chemical’s sake
No one likes a Negative Nancy. Moaning, complaining, gossiping or criticising are all great ways to murder a conversation – and they strangle the life out of any sort of professional connection too. Whatever sort of day you’ve had, put your problems aside and go to your networking event with a fresh, upbeat mindset.
Positivity and negativity have a very real bearing on people’s neurochemistry – and in conversation it’s contagious. Studies have shown that positive conversation actually boosts oxytocin levels (the feel-good hormone) in both people. While negative conversations raise cortisol levels (that’s the stress hormone). So try to be a Positive Penelope instead.
Look somewhat memorable
We’re not suggesting you rock up with neon green hair wearing nothing but a pair of Gucci belts, but make an effort to be somewhat noticeable. If you’ve got a quirky style already, then that’s fantastic – don’t be afraid to flaunt it.
If you’re not much of a snazzy dresser, that’s fine too – you can always wear a strong colour, accessorise with an eye-catching piece of jewellery, stick on some bright lippy, or chuck on a funky pair of brogues. The purpose is to give the people you meet, a visual reminder of you when they recall your exchange the next day.
Your opening line and your punch line
First impressions count – and the worst possible first impression someone can have of you is that you’re boring or not great at what you do. So rather than introduce yourself with a dreary old job title, have a short and sweet sentence at the ready to describe who you are and what you do. Make it impressive.
And it’s really the final impression that will leave a good or bad aftertaste. Always end your exchanges on a positive, interesting note – preferably while handing over your business card. Opt for a design that isn’t bland or forgettable. One with a stylized picture of yourself or made from an unusual material, adds some serious memorability points.