How to network at a blathering, annual meeting or just a meet-up

It’s intimidating to walk into a conference or space full of successful people, such as lawyers or bloggers, with inside jokes. Although I'm an extrovert, I fumble when someone asks "What's new" at a networking reception or casual play date.

Our last ChicagoNow blathering

Our last ChicagoNow blathering

To gear up for a ChicagoNow blogger event this Saturday and my organization's annual meeting next week in Boston, I'm going to remember a lot of others may feel awkward, too.

The late Dr. Maya Angelou said it best, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

That means no need to name drop and talk about how "important" you are. Do your industry research so you already know all that and can talk about fun stuff and try to help others.

This weekend's ChicagoNow blogger gathering, also known as "blathering", is family friendly. I'll to try to make new friends, listen to what they say and keep track of my own sweet and wild toddler boys.

Although I usually like to plan my outfit in advance and be on time, I'm most focused on simple snacks and diapers for a quick visit before afternoon nap time.

If someone asks what's new, I may share that I'm staffing our ABA Annual Meeting next for our Section of Science & Technology Law group. I'm catching-up with one of my best friends later that day who is in town for Lollapalooza.

I try to laugh and sometimes cry with friends and family whenever I can, write, run and do yoga to decompress. I'm grateful and sometimes exhausted to juggle my career and family, which often feels like sprinting several marathons each day.

Back to networking (now that you heard my elevator speech), I'm going to rely on these helpful tips from one of our ChicagoNow managers Shavon Banket. Thank you Shavon, our other manager  Jimmy Greenfield and ChicagoNow bloggers for the constant inspiration and fodder!

If you are still feeling shy a simple, 'You guys look like you’re having the most fun here, mind if I join this conversation?', is a great way to break the ice when trying to edge your way into a big  group.  Or, even just a “Hi, I’m new to this,” can go a long way.

Some things to consider doing as a way to jump start your mingling:

1.       Make a point to talk to someone you’ve never met before.

2.       If there’s a post you’ve read that you have really enjoyed, share that with the writer.

3.       Talk to me.

Others may tell you to strategize pre-networking event about who you want to meet. I appreciate that, but am going to keep it simple and manage my expectations to have fun and be positive. Respect others times and don't close talk.

Any networking tips?

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Filed under: professional, wellness

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