Demonstration Session 4

Friday, August 3 2018


Ice breakers, crafting a personal elevator pitch, finding the right people to target, and most importantly, how to eloquently excuse yourself from an awkward or pointless conversation. Networking is easy when you have the tools to succeed.

Notes from the session:

What do we think of when we think of networking?

  • A chance to meet and get a know new people; understand new contexts
  • An opportunity to stay abreast of changes and players in your field or industry
  • Seeing who is out there in your industry and let them know that you’re there as well
  • Pay it forward by helping people achieve their goals

What do you need to focus on?

  • Always attend a networking event with a career goal in mind
  • Attending networking events should also be about building a support network that is mutually beneficial to everyone’s career goals. Each person in a networking relationship should be able to help others achieve career goals and be a support system.

How do you get in and engage in the small talk?

  • “Who do you work for?”
  • Okay, but gets to business too quickly. This can feel “too D.C.” and not personable. Depending on the context, this can appear as not genuine and not really working to build a relationship.
  • Very good to have a wing person, but in many situations, you won’t have that available.
  • Authenticity is key to building relationships. Getting to know people, and ultimately, being a very good, attentive listener is crucial. Let people talk about themselves.
  • Sometimes, showing vulnerability is a good strategy, for example, saying “I don’t know anyone here.”
  • Finding the lone person at an event can also be a good strategy. They clearly want to talk since they are there, but just need a catalyst.

Good eye contact is key.

  • Don’t look over people’s shoulder to observe the party. It’s very apparent and no one wants to feel unimportant. Be present and attentive.

Good topics to dig deeper and engage in a meaningful conversation.

  • Ways to stay healthy: Going to the gym, new diets, food fads, exercise programs, etc
  • Technology is another great conversation topic. D.C., in particular, is a great place to talk about the latest trends in tech. Relationships are formed through forms of tech, and that’s another way to maintain relationships over time.
  • Reading ‘The Skimm’ helps you understand what’s happening in current events and make it through conversations you aren’t well versed in.

In order to talk to others, you have to know yourself and what you’re trying to project to the world.

  • Identify three things about yourself that you consider unique enough to talk about and how you want people to remember/identify you by.
  • It can be your hobbies, work goals, stuff like that. They should just be authentic and memorable.

How do you get out of a conversation you want to leave?

  • Sometimes just saying “It was great to meet you and getting to know you. I have to excuse myself.” is a very appropriate approach. People who are nervous have a habit of artificially extending a conversation because they’re afraid of lapses of silence or being the one to end a conversation.
  • Saying “I have to go to the restroom” or “I’m going to get another drink” is also useful in certain situations when someone is too attached.
  • Honesty helps– it’s sometimes important to own up to wanting to leave. There’s a layer of awareness at networking events that makes that acceptable sometimes.
  • You can make an exit a “we” scenario; for example, saying “we should probably be talking to other people.”
  • You can also introduce the person you’re talking to someone else and then leave.

Top Tips

  • Flee your comfort zone. Taking a few more chances and putting yourself out there to meet new people will provide you with many more doors you may not have realized were available.
  • Be authentic. Being true to yourself is important as people can quickly tell when someone is not being genuine. Open up and share your personal career journey and core values.
  • Be prepared. Do your homework on the event and the people who will be attending.