Whether you’re on your way to ASDA’s Annual Session next week or you’re just gearing up for a chapter vendor fair, networking is a must-have skill in your professional arsenal. In order to become a better networker at national ASDA meetings and in any other meetings you attend, read through the tips below.
- It’s ok to check name badges! Don’t be shy to shake someone’s hand and read their badge (and be sure to always wear yours). The simple information you can gather from a name badge–what year they are in dental school, which school they attend–can help you start a conversation.
- Smile. Take a cue from Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People and flash your pearly whites. A smile will make those around you feel more comfortable and open up. Some of Carnegie’s other tips include: ask questions, carry business cards and repeat people’s names when they introduce themselves (this help you remember their name and people also like to hear their own name, making them warm up to you).
- Listen! A huge part of networking is to listen. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, so by asking a few questions and being a good listener, you can make new friends quickly. This is also advantages if you’re naturally shy. All you have to do is get up the courage to start a conversation and then you can spend more time listening than talking.
- It’s ok to have an agenda. If you’re the fundraising chair at your chapter, it’s perfectly fine to open conversation by asking how another chapter raises money. Exchanging ideas is a big part of the networking that goes on at meetings. Just be prepared to give away your good ideas when someone asks you!
Networking at the exhibit fair:
- When approaching exhibitors, thank them for their participation and let them take a minute to tell you about their organization. Don’t just ask for a sample or a game stamp (for ASDA’s passport game) and move on. You should use your time at the exhibit fair to learn about new products and services.
- Exhibitors may ask you questions about your chapter, rules concerning lunch & learns, and upcoming vendor fairs at your school. Be prepared for questions of this nature. You may want to encourage the exhibitors to participate in various functions. Feel free to collect business cards and use ASDA’s mobile app to access exhibitor contact information even after the meeting.
- Don’t be shy to accept samples. Don’t be reticent to ask questions or give opinions about exhibitors’ products and services. Your input can be helpful to them.
- Some exhibitors will ask to scan your badge to collect your contact information (including e-mail address). You are welcome to say no, but you may miss out on promotions for you or your chapter.
Networking takes some practice, but luckily there are a million ways to strike up a conversation. What usually works for you? Share you networking tips in the comments below!
~Kim Schneider, communications editor; and Barton Lewin, senior manager, corporate relations