I have a love/hate relationship with networking events. While I absolutely love meeting new interesting people, I absolutely hate starting the conversations. I’m kind of a shy person and I’ve just never been very comfortable going up to strangers. So if you’re reading this and you’re a socially awkward weirdo like me, here’s a good trick I’ve learned over the years on how to get the most out of networking events.
Flip the situation on it’s head: instead of forcing yourself to awkwardly go up to strangers and start conversations, give strangers a reason to start a conversation with you.
The best way to do this is to go to networking events where there is a live speaker or a panel discussion, and then ask a well-thought-out question during the Q and A.
There are 2 main benefits to doing this: (1) other attendees will seek you out and want to speak with you because they were impressed with your insanely intelligent question and marvelously keen life observations; and (2) you’ll have a good excuse to go up to the speaker afterward and introduce yourself, which will obviously lead to a long-term business relationship and mountains of gold.*
*Okay, maybe not mountains of gold, but if you follow up with this person via email or a written thank you note, at the minimum you will be on their radar and have an entry point for keeping the conversation going.