As I sit here – in the middle of August – I cant help but wonder where on earth has summer gone? According to the weather forecast an entire 6 weeks worth of rain has fallen from our gloomy skies in the space of 2 days. Another good old british summer is upon us. Last night I caught a programme on channel 4 called “very british problems” – very funny, and could not be more true. Us Brits are known for our wet summers, but in addition to that, last nights programme amusingly depicted a number of other classically British ‘isms’ that one cant help but chuckle at – small talk being one of them.
This got me thinking – a significant part of our jobs as recruiters and also your jobs as lawyers involves networking – and thus the dreaded small talk. Some of us blossom when thrown in a room full of strangers, and others less so. Lets face it the true Brit in us would rather cower in the corner nursing the same cup of luke warm cup of tea for half an hour rather than make eye contact with anyone new. Other than the weather, the journey here, and the classic “business going well?” one liners, us Brits are pretty much useless when it comes to deeper topics of conversation.
I don’t massively mind networking and talking to new people. Yes it is cringe, yes there can be some inane chat about “the lovely spread” the host has put on, and yes the first five minutes can be spent painfully shoe shuffling in the corner, scouring the room for the most friendly looking person that you can pounce upon. But all in all we are all there for the same ultimate purpose and goal, contacts and business.
My tips for virgin networkers or those who are a little timid when it comes to meeting potential clients, employers or candidates are: be yourself, smile and most importantly of all – relax!! The fact of the matter is, the person opposite you is probably equally as nervous and uncomfortable. Both of you want to get the niceties out of the way, so just take a deep breath, get in there and make friends. Business is so much better with people that you get along with. Don’t be overfamiliar, you shouldn’t be talking about your innermost secrets with a potential business contact, but share anecdotes, talk about the kids, or find common ground. This will make for a positive business relationship moving forward.