Amanda Guralski of BizMe.Biz has advice for schmoozing
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Amanda Guralski, career advisor and co-founder of www.BizMe.biz, on online magazine for the young working women says younger workers today seem to have lost the knack for face-to-face conversation.
"They have grown up only with their cell phones, text messaging, emailing, instant messaging, Facebooking," said Guralski. "They have 100-percent lost the ability to sit down with somebody and having that face-to-face conversation."
Guralski says those people skills are more important to a career than grade point average or even an advanced degree.
Her advice? Learn how to have a networking conversation and learn how to end that conversation when it's time to move on.
Guralski says when you get to a networking event find someone to talk to. That could be someone who is standing alone, or, if you don't see a likely candidate, stand near the food where people tend to congregate.
Striking up a conversation can be difficult, but Guralski says a good ice-breaker is to simply ask the person if they've ever been to the event before. Stick with safe subjects like the weather, sports, movies or television shows.
Guralski says keep an eye on body language, yours as well as the person you are talking to.
"You can automatically tell if someone is not engaged with what you're saying by the way that they are standing and (if) they're looking at you."
Guralski says make sure you are making eye contact with the person you are talking to, to turn your body toward them so they know they have your full attention.
Getting out of a conversation can be just as tricky as starting one.
"You have to remember that networking events are made to mingle," said Guralski, who says you can gracefully break out of a conversation by telling the person how much you've enjoyed talking with them.
If there's a reason to follow up, suggest setting up a meeting in the future, and make sure you have their business card. Let the person know there are some other people in the room you wanted to touch base with before they go, and then make your exit.
"But one of the things you want to do is make sure you move at least a quarter of the room away from that person so it doesn't look like you were just bored and you wanted to get away," advised Guralski.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All rights reserved.)