Ahead of his talk at The Meetings Show on June 28, Héctor A. Venegas’, MD of planning and consulting company Engaging Meetings Ltd, reveals why networking is such an essential skill to have and how reluctant networkers can improve
What will event planners gain by attending your session at The Meetings Show?
I’ll be sharing new ideas on how to approach people and giving attendees new energy to try something they might not have tried so far.
Why is networking such an essential skill to have?
It is the most essential asset you have, especially when you need support or are looking for new opportunities. When you can rely on people who will give others a good reference about you, this will open doors which usually would have stayed closed for you. You might get a new job possibility, a new idea, a new friend… something positive will always happen if you surround yourself with people.
How important is networking as an element of a meeting or event?
Within any meeting or event, networking is a very important element. The event might not have networking as the main objective, but the moment when people meet for the first time, or deepen their connection, will provide energy and brain power for content.
A lot of clients ask for ‘networking breaks’ or ‘networking evenings’ to enable the participants of the meeting or event to get to know each other better, but I don’t think that this is enough. Make networking the central element of your event. When people get to know each other, they start talking differently to one another. The communication is leveraged to a whole new level. This enhances the co-creation for so many topics and ensures the communication is done in a purposeful way.
“Be interested in people, not interesting; listen way more than you talk. There is a reason we have two ears and only one mouth.”
Do you think networking skills are something which needs to be focused on more by meetings professionals?
Yes absolutely. At networking dinners or receptions most of the participants don’t even know how to start a conversation. The skill to approach someone you don’t know is something anyone can learn. It is essential to take the first step or it could be a missed opportunity.
Are there any tactics you recommend to aid networking?
Be open and be brave. Get a little outside of your comfort zone and attract others to do the same. Be interested in people, not interesting; listen way more than you talk. There is a reason we have two ears and only one mouth.
Remember the name of the person you just met. No matter what kind of memory tool or trick you use, it’s the key to getting into conversation.
What would be your one best tip for anyone wanting to improve their networking skills?
Try it, over and over again. Talk to strangers, see what you can do for others and see what benefits it can bring.
If you had one top tip for event planners, what would it be?
Be open, share ideas and dreams and don’t hold back thinking someone else could ‘steal your idea’. If you share, others will follow your path.
Héctor A. Venegas will be speaking at The Meetings Show 2018, at 12.10pm on Thursday 28 June. For more information about the education programme and to register to attend, visit themeetingsshow.com.
Don’t forget to visit the PA Life team over on stand I203 during the show.