Walking into a room full of strangers when you’re on your own is a lot more difficult for some than others. And if you’re doing it as a fresh-faced freelancer who only left their full-time job a month ago? Forget it, we’re out the door and sprinting away.
Luckily, there are a few pointers that can help you get through, and make you seem a lot more professional than you’re feeling.
Confident and relaxed body language
Inside you might be hopping from foot to foot and searching for someone who will take you under their wing through the terrifying ordeal. But your exterior should be cool, calm and ever so collected.
The more comfortable you seem (even though you’re far from it) the more people will respect you. You’re representing your brand as well as yourself, so don’t get too panicked and try to keep all body language saying ‘I’m a calm and confident individual who you can trust with your freelancing needs’.
If you’re struggling for an ice breaker, bring along some business cards. They’ll act as the perfect opener when you can’t find the words and will get people asking about your profession.
Business cards send out the right signals to professionals and potential clients, and also hold the possibility of future work. So, rather than knocking something up yourself on Paint, outsource to get some professional-looking cards that will impress your fellow networkers.
New shoes might be tempting, but you don’t want to be hobbling rather than mingling. Stay professional and wear something that reflects your brand. However, if you’re a food blogger, an apron and chef’s hat could be a step too far (but hey, it might be the perfect way to get people remembering you!).
Speak to everyone
If you’re nervous it can be easy to talk to as few people as possible and stick with them the entire time. Step out of your comfort zone and talk to the majority of people in the room.
You’ll come across as sociable and interested and could be in high demand in the following days. Another plus, you won’t have to go to another networking event for a while!
Start the conversation
Be a memorable contact by going up to people with an opening line other than ‘what line of work are you in’. This will make you seem like you’re actually interested in them as a person rather than how they could benefit you.
Find something in common with the person, whether it’s the food they’re serving, the awful traffic or the local football team. Use everything you already know about the person to your advantage (they’re attending the same event as you after all!).
Got more tips for networking events? Leave them in the comment section below!