Have you ever found that networking or “working a room” stressful? I noticed early in my career that often the connections you make during a social networking hour can generate leads and introduce new people to your products and services. Often “breaking the ice” can be challenging since opening a conversation can appear awkward or in some cases embarrassing. That was the case for me until I discovered what I call “Tandem Networking.” Just like riding a tandem bicycle requires the effort of two people to move the bicycle forward, “tandem networking” requires the efforts of two people working in unison!
Communication Powerhouse Tip of the Week: When attending social events, always bring a partner to work with you and practice “tandem networking.” Some people call this having a “wingman” or a “wingwoman” where you work together to introduce each other to other people. For example, one of my friends is a great caterer and meeting planner. When we went to a recent tradeshow, we would introduce each other to people. I would introduce her and talk about her background while she would introduce me to others and similarly tell others about my talents. This method is very effective for several reasons:
1) It is easier to speak to others and boast about your friend rather than boasting about yourself. People are often put off by braggarts and people who always want to talk about themselves. In networking situations, though, that is expected. When you attend an event with a friend or colleague, this kind of boasting is now seen in a new light.
2) You do not need to work the room alone. By working together, a room full of new people is not as daunting or intimidating as trying to work the room alone.
3) You can easily disengage from a conversation if you have a partner. If you find yourself in an awkward situation while speaking with a new person, you can always work together to disengage in the conversation if needed.
4) Two sets of eyes are better than one. You can observe differences in body language and catch clues easier when two people are watching. I recently encountered this when I was at a tradeshow. My colleague and I found the tradeshow person’s body language and attitude change once we had dropped a name. There was something odd about that, and having two people witness that, I knew that I would not drop that name again!
5) Your tandem networking partner can keep you accountable. Often after attending networking events, you may collect a set of business cards and contact information. Your tandem networking partner can keep you accountable to make sure you follow-up and use those valuable contacts.
- How do you approach networking a room?
- Have you considered using a partner to help you with your next event?
Please comment below as I look forward to hearing your thoughts.