Networking Connections 101

5 Picnic Rules

 “Remember me from the picnic?” Summer picnic season provides you with an opportunity to relax, reconnect, and relish good friends and neighbors. It can also provide you with an opportunity to make good connections. Here are five general rules about networking in social conversations:

 1. Talk to anyone; maybe not everyone – Don’t waste the entire event trying to figure out a way to talk to the most popular person at the party. In your strategizing, you might miss making a connection to someone else. That person you’ve never met might be your next best big lead! And even if you don’t get to talk to everyone, having a few really good conversations may provide better results than meeting everyone in a “bums-rush” way.

 2. Be approachable – Eye contact is key. Watch that fine line between making good eye contact and not staring someone down. Open body language and a nice smile can help.

 3. Listen attentively – You’re at a social event, so your business agenda should be placed squarely and firmly on the back burner. Listen for content and make mental notes of the names of family members, other friends you have in common, their hobbies and interests. Making connections socially can play into your business life, but let it happen organically.

4. Know when enough is enough – If you’ve run out your repertoire with someone and want to move on, know how to excuse yourself gracefully. Offer to get another round of beverages. If they decline, you’re free to move on alone. If they accept, strike up another conversation with someone else on your way back to them. Then invite them into your new conversation.

 5. Follow up is key – To capitalize on a true connection, be sure your last words are an invitation to meet again. Even if you kept your interaction strictly social, gain a verbal commitment to get together again socially. The business talk can expand as your relationship does. 

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