At a recent event attended by POE students and mentors, the question in the title was offered as a way to open up dialog when you are at a networking event. The idea is it sparks a conversation and any answer is a good answer. The event, held in June, was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Menlo Park and was hosted at Menlo College. Besides the networking tips, the event offered students an opportunity to review their resumes and LinkedIn accounts with experts, and practice networking with other students and mentors.
In addition to the Jurassic Park question, the speaker shared “Top 10 Networking Tips” with the group of about 50 people. These tips, which are useful whether you are experienced or a networking newbie, are:
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Research attendees, sponsors, and keynote speakers. You can’t talk to everyone, so identify who you need to meet.
2. READ THE FRONT PAGE OF THE PAPER – You should know who won last night’s game, lost the election, went out of business, filed for an IPO. . . It’s called small talk!
3. PRACTICE YOUR HANDSHAKE – Too firm? To soft? Too long? Too sweaty? Grab a friend and practice to get it right.
4. DRESS THE PART – Cocktail attire? Business formal? Bathing suit? Accessories are conversation starters! Lapel pins, brooches, watches. . .
5. MIRROR AND MATCH – Practice the subtle art of “mirroring” other people’s body language, mannerisms, and mood. Remember, subtle.
6. ANSWER QUESTIONS WITH AN AFFIRMATION – Every once in awhile throw in a “that’s a good question” or “I’m glad you asked that.” Everyone likes to know they are making good conversation!
7. USE THEIR NAME – “The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of one’s own name.” – Dale Carnegie
8. HOLD YOUR DRINK IN YOUR LEFT HAND – You shake with your right, right? So keep it free and clear! Finger foods? Eat with your left hand! Don’t wipe greasy fingers on your pants!
9. ASK QUESTIONS – Not sure what to ask? Hypotheticals are always fun! Try this one out: If Jurassic Park were real, would you visit?
10. FOLLOW UP – Ask for business cards (and write a brief note on each one so you can remember what you discussed). Follow up the next day.
Even for old hands, the tips were valuable. And for POE students just starting out, it was a great way to learn skills that will be valuable forever.
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