Written By: Tyler Robers
Tyler serves as the 2017-2018 President of Marquette ASDA
Annual Session is coming soon, so I’m finally taking the time to reflect on some of the things I learned at this year’s National Leadership Conference. Anyone that knows me understands I am not a networking guru, but I do have a passion for striving to work on that weakness. At my first ASDA conference I was afraid to approach any stranger for a conversation, even those from my own chapter, but I have learned some things along the way that have helped me grow my networking skills. Here are 5 networking tips for those looking to expand their game:
1. Offer Something Physical- A strong title for this tip that might not mean what you think. One of the first networking tips I learned was to always have something to give people while networking. If you have gum, candy, or pens you have an instant in to any conversation. I don’t attend any ASDA conference without first picking up a 3-pack of gum. We’re all future dentists, who doesn’t like fresh breath?
2. Ask for a Business Card & Follow-Up- At ASDA conferences we make a ton of connections with fresh faces. Many of these people we may never see again, but you never know. Ask for a business card or some other form of contact information and ALWAYS follow-up on a meaningful conversation. When following up make sure to include something memorable from the conversation, such as a funny joke, and provide an avenue for further conversation.
3. Remember Names- Wow, this can be really hard. I will admit this has been one of my biggest struggles in networking, but I’ve realized remembering someone’s name is mostly based on the effort you put into doing so. My favorite approach is to repeat the person’s name at the end of the conversation, such as “It was great to meet you, Steve” and soon after the conversation I type their name and anything I learned about them in my phone. I then like to look back at my list at the end of each event and before the next conference; this has helped me remember familiar faces from one event to the next.
4. Be Third to the Table- Do you ever find yourself standing alone at an event and awkwardly making eye contact with another person standing alone? Although you could both benefit from someone to talk to you, that would be way too awkward to walk over and start a conversation, right? The best way to join a conversation and meet new people is to make your way to a group of 2 or 3 people already in conversation. You can read their body language to see if they’re open for people to join and you can avoid standing alone talking to your drink.
5. Ask Questions- People LOVE to talk about themselves. Try approaching a networking conversation by asking as many questions as you can. You will learn a lot about the other person and they will leave the encounter happy, because they just had the opportunity to talk about their hobbies, ASDA experience, and maybe even their pets.
The main thing to remember is JUST DO IT (I did not create this slogan). The best way to improve your networking skills is to practice. Force yourself to talk to at least one new person at every networking event, and remember these basic tips to make those scary situations a little easier.
Contact Tyler at Tyler.Robers@mu.edu