To progress in your career, it is important to have a network of contacts. Nowadays, professional networking sites such as LinkedIn are a good starting point to connect with potential contacts or even future employers. Online 'networking' has its positives.
However that does not mean that we should not consider attending networking functions, whether they are local business chamber events or professional forum events to name a few.
After attending many networking functions I have observed some people thrive and others who look absolutely terrified at the thought of speaking with another person. Yet that is the main purpose of attending a networking function – to speak with and make connections with other professionals.
Speaking in front of a group can have the same effect as attending a networking function for some people.
Here are four tips that you can use from developing your public speaking skills.
Tip #1 – Breathe
Deep breathing is a vitally important public speaking skill. It allows a presenter to speak at a good pace and have a conversational tone. This can be just as effectively used when you need to build a relationship with a stranger for business purposes.
Practising breathing exercises helps to:
- Relax your muscles which tend to become tense when feeling stressed
- Develop a strong speaking voice
Tip #2 – Preparation is key
Preparation is an important component of being a proficient speaker. It is important that you know your topic well. The same is true for networking events.
Prepare yourself by having an answer to the question: 'What do you do?'
This is a simple question yet many people have a problem answering this question. Think about what you do and how you help others. Prepare your mini speech and be ready to include it in your conversation. Tell your story and make it relevant to the person with whom you're speaking.
Tip #3 – Make a connection
What is your body language saying about you?
If you have closed body language then you will come across as someone who is not confident about what they do. If you have a strong stance with a firm handshake then you will automatically come across as a competent person. A simple change in stance can make the world of difference.
Eye contact is important too. When speaking with a person make sure that you look at them, not past them looking at other potential people with whom to network. Give the person that you're speaking with your undivided attention.
Tip #4 – Your voice
Speak clearly with an appropriate pace. Consider practising voice exercises prior to attending the networking function. This will help with all of your vocal qualities. Using your voice well assists in making a positive connection with the people that you meet at a networking event.
By using techniques used in public speaking, attending a networking event can become a positive experience, which may lead to new business or a new job.