Be Confident: You are likely to have something in common with everyone at a SIM event. Don’t hesitate to approach people and find out what that is. Make eye contact and smile to make a good impression.
Small Talk: The point of small talk is to make a quick connection with the person you’re talking to in order to build rapport. If you’re not good at small talk, ask other members about what they’re working on. Find common ground in the work we all do. Chances are the person you meet is working on something you have some experience with (or will at some point). You can also ask them who else they know in the room and ask them for an introduction.
Arrive Early: If large crowds aren’t your thing, try showing up a bit early. Getting there before most of the crowd gives you an opportunity to network before it gets too loud and crowded.
Buddy Up: Reach out to other members of the chapter that you know and plan to meet them at the meeting. Having a couple of people you know well enough to talk to can take the pressure off.
Uncomfortable Silence: Don’t get freaked out if there is a lull in the conversation. We didn’t go into technology for the people skills… If we can’t be a little awkward with each other, who can we be awkward with?
Be Inviting: Avoid making closed circles. Invite people to join your conversation. If you see someone standing alone (who’s not on the phone) approach and introduce yourself. They’ll probably appreciate the attention.
Use the Person’s Name: People like hearing their own name, and using it while looking at them is a great way to memorize it.
Be Curious: Our members represent very diverse businesses. Be curious about the kinds of business problems others are trying to solve. You never know where the inspiration for a great idea will come from.
Follow Up: Collect a business card and follow up with something that might be of interest to the person (write a note on the business card to remind yourself).
Volunteer: Sometimes having a purpose can make you more at ease. Contact the organizer of the meeting and see if they need help with anything. Arranging name placards, greeting people as they come in, and providing instruction or directions are all small things that can help make a meeting go smoother, and give you a reason to interact with others.
Be a Good Listener: Networking is a great place to practice your Active listening skills. Communication is hard. Don’t assume what you hear is what was said.
Relax: You deal with much more complicated and critical issues on a daily basis. You feel like you’re out of your element, but most of the other people in the room probably feel the same way.
Introduce Someone: Don’t hesitate to introduce people to each other. Let them know what they have in common.
Offer Assistance: Ask if there is anything you can do to help, or anything they’re working on that they could use an outside opinion on.
Ask For Advice: If there is something you think you could learn, don’t hesitate to ask for advice. “What would you do differently?” or “What were some of the reasons the project succeeded?”
Talk About SIM: If you can’t think of anything to talk about, talk about SIM. Brainstorm how to make the chapter work better for you both, and share the outcome with someone on the board!
Talk About a Recent Project: We can all benefit from stories of projects that succeeded or failed. Passing on experiences helps us all learn, and can provide valuable context.
Networking is NOT Selling: We all get lots of opportunities to get pitched technology and services. Networking at SIM events is about building personal connections between members, not selling. Once trust has been established, selling becomes unnecessary, people will likely come to you.
Talk About Technology: We all share a common interest in technology, many of our members are very passionate about the subject. You want to get someone to open up? Talk to them about something they are passionate about.
But, I’m New: It may feel like everyone already knows everybody else, but the reality is that more than half our membership have been members less than 3 years. Introduce yourself around and you will find most people very receptive.