by Melissa Grau and Kathleen Ashwill
Are you wanting to know how to most effectively make connections at conferences and speaking engagements?
Whether you’re reserved or outgoing, networking events may make you feel feel like you’re walking into uncharted territory.
What can you expect?
What types of people will you meet?
How are you supposed to respond?
As you travel into the unknown, Esquire Coaching is here to give you an overview of the personalities people most commonly run into at networking events, and more importantly, how to connect with them.
This is Part Two of our two-part look at The Types of People You Meet at Networking Events:
The Wandering Eye
This person is the type of individual that who always spends so much time looking for the best dessert on the tray that they never enjoy the dessert in front of them. While you’re speaking with them, they’ll continually break eye contact with you, scanning the crowd for someone better to talk to. Rude, yes, but don’t take it personally. There’s no right or wrong way to deal with The Wandering Eye.
Try different conversation topics to pique their interest and see what engages them. With this type of personality, it’s hard to maintain their undivided attention for a full conversation. Oftentimes, if you’re still not getting through to them, it might be best to cut your losses and politely end the conversation.
The Opportunist is notorious for getting to the bottom line: what you can do for them. This person has probably come to the event you’re attending with a very clear agenda. Their purpose is to get to that agenda as quickly as possible during your interaction and to have you answer one question: Are you in?
Throughout your conversation, they’ll be sizing you up, looking to see how you can help advance their career. Or maybe they’ll just ask for free legal advice depending on the circumstance. When dealing with the Opportunist, ask yourself these questions:
Is this individual prominent within the legal profession?
Do they have connections that you would like to explore?
These two questions are key to how you react when faced with the Opportunist. If you decide that catering to their needs is worth gaining them as a connection, go for it. If you feel like you’re simply being used, it might be best to end the conversation and move on.
If you choose to continue the conversation, be genuinely receptive to the Opportunist’s ideas, but don’t expect that you’ll be able to fully describe your own. This conversation may be a bit one-sided, so listen in a friendly and open way, ask any questions you honestly have, and exit the interaction when you feel ready to do so. There’s no pressure to sign onto the Opportunist’s agenda right away or at all, not after you’ve had time to process what they’ve presented.
The Networker Extraordinaire
This person lives for networking events and has their networking skills finely honed to maximize their success. They will ask you pointed questions to quickly determine whether a connection is possible or not. Answer thoughtfully and confidently. Don’t feel rushed; give an honest response to their questions, and ask them significant questions that you also have. If the Networker Extraordinaire seems a bit more savvy than you when it comes to networking (perhaps they have a strategy that you haven’t tried), be sure to make a mental (or written!) note so you can improve your skills. Networking events, in addition to being mines of great connections for your firm’s expansion and success, are also great places to learn, so be open to what each person you meet can teach you, whether it’s how you want to be or what you’d like to avoid!
This person is a seasoned professional, very confident personally and professionally, and quite knowledgeable about and connected to many people. They are well connected and well known. He or she is an influencer within the field, equipped with the ability to be a mover and shaker in the legal profession.
They are likely not at the event to gain any clients but simply enjoy the process of exchanging information and connecting their contacts with each other. Definitely make some time during the event to introduce yourself to this person. Since they aren’t there with a specific agenda, they’re more free to just share with you the information and insights that will be valuable to you, as well as to introduce to to prospective clients and others you can connect with.
It is important to be tactful and savvy when talking with this individual, being the best version of yourself. Gaining an “in” with an Influencer could mean opening doors to many opportunities, all originating through a single conversation. If you’re just starting out with your practice or a new dimension of your career, this person could become a valuable mentor to you for years to come. If you are fairly established in your position, you can look forward to the possibility of fruitful and stimulating idea-mapping sessions with this person if your connection extends beyond the event.
Do your best to engage them in conversation, working to maintain their interest and keep them invested in what you’re saying. It is appropriate to talk about yourself and your accomplishments at a minimum. The key, however, to connecting with this individual is finding common ground and working from there. This is a connection that will benefit you on many levels, so be sure to make the link with the Influencer
The personality types described in this two-part blog series are only the people most commonly found at networking events. In terms of connecting with all types of people, the key is to be yourself. People will be attracted to you based on your values and the way you conduct yourself, regardless of the type of person they may be. It just comes down to having enough practice pitching your skills, and enticing people to want to gain you as a connection.
Did you miss Part One? Read The Types of People You Meet at Networking Events: Part 1.
If you want to boost your networking skills, Esquire Coaching can help by providing techniques and strategies, opportunities to practice, and assertiveness tips that will quickly turn you into an expert networker. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a FREE consultation.
What types of people have you encountered when networking?
How were you able to connect with them?
Which one are you?
What are your best networking strategies?