5 Ways to Work a Room

Kelly Harvey
Kelly Harvey
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    Networking has become a necessary element to a PCO’s career. Maintaining the key relationship with clients or stakeholders, supplier, vendors, industry influences and delegates, are key to a successful event.  Networking is also often those working agency side find their next client or project.

    It takes courage and some practice to present yourself confidently among industry peers. Your first few attempts at this will inevitably be difficult, especially for those who are naturally more introverted, but that’s not to say that you won’t be able to do it successfully and ultimately leave a good impression among those whom which you have interacted with.

    There’s no real art to working a room, many successful networkers have a proven technique of charming others that is personal to them. However, if you’re stumped and feeling discouraged, here are few pointers:

    1)    Have Confidence

    Confidence is a very attractive quality that creates an aura that naturally draws people in. So, have confidence when you enter the room, have confidence when you’re standing in a corner, have confidence even when no one is watching you. It can sometimes be hard to feel confident, but if you keep trying to “fake it ‘til you make it”, it will benefit you greatly in the long run.

    Perhaps a good place to start is greeting with a firm, full-hand cordial handshake as opposed to a half-hearted handshake. A good handshake can imply that you are interested in engaging and presents confidence. If you’re walking around a room, consider keeping one hand free at all times, so that you are always open and ready to greet anyone who approaches you.

    2)    Have a Plan

    Before your arrival, decide on a purpose for your attendance. It doesn’t have to be written in stone, and you can always steer away from your plan if you find a more purposeful goal to pursue. Be it general networking, or meeting at least three people, or just leaving with at least two new insights – whatever your purpose is, having a reason to be there will lead your thoughts to be more succinct and focused, and lead to more effective conversations.

    3)    Pay Attention to Your Body Language

    People form their first impressions of others quite quickly. If you seem closed off (e.g. crossing your arms, or looking downward while you walk) or disinterested (e.g. never taking your eyes off your phone), people are less likely to interact and engage with you. Having an open stance, smiling, maintaining confidence and eye contact, will make you seem more welcoming and open to conversation.

    4)    Listen to What People are Saying

    Being a good talker is great, but be sure to be a good listener as well. The key indicator of being a good conversationalist lies in your ability to not just hear what someone else is saying and then, waiting your turn to speak, but carefully listening and proactively contributing to the conversation.

    As challenging as it can be, try to remember people’s names. You might be able to get away without mentioning their name throughout your conversation with them, but it would be very unfortunate if you call them by the wrong name. This might lead them to think you weren’t that interested in the conversation with them. If possible, repeat their name in your salutations to them after they have introduced themselves, or clarify name pronunciations and spellings if you are unsure.

    Another valuable skill to acquire is the ability to turn small talk into a conversation. Small talk is almost inevitable when meeting someone for the first time, and usually leads to awkward silences when you’ve run out of introductory topics to cover. But, with keen sense and the right attitude, you can use small details picked up from your small talk and turn it into a conversation by expanding on common ground. But first, don’t overcomplicate breaking the ice – you don’t have to know everything about what another person does to start a conversation: comment on the refreshments the pair or group of you have received, compliment the décor or ease of checking in to the event, or ask them if they have been to this event previously…

    5)    Know that Everyone Feels Just as Awkward as You

    Meeting new people as an adult can be challenging. But know that, albeit at varying levels, everyone feels this way. Some people are more comfortable with meeting new people, and some others are more awkward about it than you are. There are extreme ends of attitudes toward meeting new people, so don’t compare yourself to your extroverted colleagues or introverted counterparts, and work at a pace you are comfortable with.

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