5 tips anyone can use to be likeable at a networking event

Maeva Cifuentes

Your next big networking event is coming up. Imagine your elevator pitch could swoon the most obstinate tech investor, your outfit makes James Bond look like a hobo, and you’ve researched every attendee so deeply you know their grandmother’s maiden name – are you still going to connect with the right people, the right way?

Being likeable at a networking event will help you form more meaningful connections with the right people. No matter how prepared you are, if you aren’t likeable, you’re losing business.

Of course, we are major advocates of coming to events well prepared. But true connection transcends preparation. Ultimately, building relationships – even business ones – always boils down to a human, emotional connection. People prefer to work with people they like.

Lucky for us, being likeable isn’t something you’re born with. It’s a form of emotional intelligence (EQ) and is not always related to innate traits. You can learn and practice being likeable at networking events and elsewhere. Even if you aren’t George Clooney.

At the upcoming MeltinLab in October, we expect over 350 attendees. That’s a lot of people to meet. And a lot of people to remember.

Here are a few skills you can put into practice at your next event to immediately be more likeable and memorable:

Put your phone away

The easy part about this trick is you literally have to do nothing. When you catch the urge to take your phone out of your pocket – yes, even if it’s just a quick-but-urgent response to a panicky client – don’t do it, or do it in private.

Giving your undivided attention in a conversation means you are fully present and interested in the other person. Even a glance at your phone will make it seem like you’re thinking about other things. It can make your conversation partner feel undervalued and like you’d rather be elsewhere.

Keep it in your pocket and show your interest in the person you’re speaking to.

Ask questions about the other person

Instead of giving your practiced-until-perfect elevator pitch, try learning about others and their projects. You’ll have a chance to present your business – they’ll eventually ask you, and if they don’t, it’s okay. Asking genuine questions shows people you are interested in them, their business, and what they care about.

Even a simple clarification of what was said shows that you’re listening, and you care about what they have to say.

Maintain eye contact while the other person is speaking

We know we’re repeating ourselves, but we really want you to integrate this into your networking practice: stay present. Keep eye contact while someone is speaking to you.

Even if you manage to keep your phone politely hidden, looking around makes it seem like you are distracted and have somewhere else to go – or worse – someone else to talk to. Your conversation partner might not comment on your transgression, but neither might you win their business.

Everyone enjoys talking to someone who is paying attention.

Never talk badly about others

We don’t care how badly the presenter screwed up her startup pitch. Never make fun or talk badly about people in front of others. They may laugh along with you, but people who speak badly of others are quickly regarded as hard to work with.

Also, resist the temptation to laugh along while John Doe is trash-talking another person. Smile politely and change the conversation. You never know who is watching!

Don’t try to get everyone to like you

We know that this post is about getting more people to like you. We’re not contradicting ourselves. The most likeable attribute in a person is authenticity. People can sniff out fakes miles away.

Understand that not everyone is going to like you – and you shouldn’t try to change how you are to get them to. You will fail. The point of the above likeability exercises is to form deeper human (and business) relationships, and the only meaningful relationships are between two genuine people.

Are you ready to put your new skills to practice at your next networking event?

At MeltinLab, we want to create an environment where startups, business executives, and investors can form long-lasting, meaningful relationships with the right people. We want to grow the international and local tech ecosystem. And we believe that’s through one connection at a time.

Register for our next event on October 17th. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet the person that will change your business forever.

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