Career Skills Development - "Breaking The Ice" at National

By Cindy Powell

Two people approach a reception hall at the same time. Both are on a mission to make the most of their first night at the annual conference. Both are professionals in their field, excited to be among industry colleagues. And both know that the room is full of people they would like to meet as well as some old connections with whom they have not interacted lately. The thought of “Networking” brings a rush of adrenaline to both people, but that is where the similarity ends.

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One enters the room upbeat, grinning widely with a bounce in his step, while the other enters slowly, appearing nervous and feeling a little queasy.

Chances are that the opportunity to network and meet new people is one key reason for attending the upcoming IASA Educational Conference and Business Show, and the many other professional and social events in which you participate. Whether your goals are to enhance your career, increase sales, or just to connect with people who share similar experiences and challenges, successful networking is a key component of achieving those goals.

Unfortunately, networking isn’t a skill that is taught in school. While some few of us come by it naturally, the rest of us either approach it with trepidation or avoid it all together.  You likely identify with one of the two people described above. At first glance, most of us would expect the happy energetic person to have the greatest likelihood of networking success. The nervous, seemingly introverted person doesn’t seem to stand much of a chance, and may possibly spend the whole event seeking out people he already knows or—even worse—immersed in his smart phone or focused on the fabulous buffet. Conversely, the grinning person may actually come across as too aggressive or “sales driven”, and be perceived as pushy or self-serving.

Networking does not have to be so daunting. Whether you love networking or find the thought of entering a room full of strangers terrifying, there are tools and techniques that can greatly improve your chances of success.

Darin Reffitt, Director of Demand Generation and Campaign Management for EIS Group and Chuck Gunkel, VP of Business Development for IASA, have joined forces to lead Session 321 - “Breaking the Ice – Practical Strategies for Networking Success”. In this session, Darin and Chuck will share what they’ve learned about networking over the years, and provide some proven tips and techniques to help conference attendees understand things they can and should be doing before, during and after a networking event. Some key topics covered will include:

•    Fallacies about networking – What you should have learned in school
•    Networking mistakes – Common errors to avoid
•    Planning for the event – How to set yourself up for success
•    Reading the room – Who to approach and what to say
•    Following up – What to do AFTER the event

This Tuesday morning session promises to be both educational and entertaining. Come to the session and see if you can figure out which of the two speakers overcame being nervous about networking, and which one is the naturally happy, bouncy guy!

Submitted by Cindy Powell, MCPMP, CSM, President of Bespoke Management and Technology Services, and volunteer member of IASA Career Skills Development Committee