Networking Tips from Esther Stanhope

Networking Horrors! How to network when you hate small talk 

HomeWork’s event with international business speaker, former BBC broadcaster and award-winning author, Esther Stanhope for a masterclass on networking tips: Networking Horrors! How to network when you hate small talk. 

Esther specialises in personal impact, networking and how to sell yourself. She has networked her way around at more than 5000 events all over the world and spoken at events for Harvard to Deloitte, Barclays, JPMorgan, and the British army. 

We’re sharing Esther’s top tips on networking from the event. Helping you to break in to conversations, master small talk, work the room, dump boring conversations with dignity, and follow up professionally! 

Top Networking Tips: 

1. Breaking in

Do you dread networking? Walking into a room of people that you don’t know and you think ‘how do I even start a conversation?!”

Esther’s tip is to stick to the outside of the room! The middle of the room is already established, likely with people engrossed in conversations that will be awkward for you to join. Look for groups of 1, 2 or 3 people to join. People on their own will be the easiest people to spark up a conversation with.

2. Body language 

Look for people with an open body language. People having a conversation with closed body language don’t want you to join their conversation!

This is also a brilliant tip for breaking out of boring conversations. Open up your body language to invite others to join you.

3. Don’t look over someone’s shoulder 

It’s rude! If you are trying to get away from a bore, there are couple of tips you need to remember.

Never leave someone on their own. If you open up your body language, once someone else has joined your conversation you can introduce them and then break away.

Alternatively, take them with you to grab a drink, some food, or to go and chat to someone else!

4. The ‘in common game’ 

Esther’s top tip for mastering small talk is that you really can talk about anything. Yes – anything that pops into your head.

If you’re stuck for small talk, Esther recommends the ‘in common game.’

List as many things that you have in common with the person in 1 minute. Think favourite foods, holiday destinations, number of siblings – you’ll be surprised how many similarities you get!

5. Be genuine 

Don’t look for people who can help you – think about how you can help them! You will get back what you give.

Build genuine relationships whilst you’re networking, people will only do business with people they know and trust. You don’t have to be best friends or do any business from this one networking event – the aim is to introduce yourself and get to know people, not to do business.

6. How many touch points?

It takes 7 – 13 touch points for someone to do business with you. Proving that you aren’t going to do business with someone you’ve just met at a networking event!

Take your time to build a relationship with the person by following up with small, thoughtful and casual messages.

One of Esther’s tips for following up is don’t immediately contact the person with a sales pitch after the event. Send them a pic of you two at the event or an article that references your conversation.

Touch points can be emails, LinkedIn messages or even someone else referencing you or your work. Networking isn’t just about who you chat to at that one event, it’s about building and maintaining long lasting relationships.

7. What’s your name again?

Are you terrible at remembering people’s names? Find yourself having to awkwardly ask the person mid-way through your conversation ‘what’s your name again?’ or hope they mention it in passing!

The best way to remember people’s names is to make an association as soon as they tell it to you. It takes around 5 seconds for an association to stick in your brain. Try it at your next networking event!

If you’re interested in coming along to one of our events, keep up to date with our events at homework via our events page or sign up to our monthly newsletter below.