You’ve heard it before: “Your network is your net worth”. If you plan to gain any ounce of success in life, then start believing it, because it’s true! There’s no doubt that networking can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Networking isn’t just about an exchange of information, but also about following through with the information you gain to foster long-lasting relations. Learn how to network confidently while making solid connections.
1. Be Your Genuine Self
No one likes a fake or phony. Authenticity shines through whether you want it to or not and people can tell if you are or not. We all may be thinking what can this person do for me… what do they have to offer, but regardless, if you’re not genuinely interested in getting to know this person, we guarantee your connection won’t be genuine either.
2. Bring Extra Business Cards
We cannot tell you the countless times we’ve asked people for a business card, only to hear, “sorry, I just gave my last one away.” You don’t want to be that person. You can never have enough business cards, so always be sure to bring more than enough. Also, be mindful to not just shove the card in your pocket or bag once it’s recceived. Take a second to look at it and purposely thank the individual for giving you one.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Work The Room
No one likes a wallflower, so don’t you be one. Be intentional when networking. Once you arrive, scan the room and make a mental note of who you definitely would like to connect with during the event. Work the room in sections by allotting a specific amount of time in each area. Take it a step further and allot a specific amount of time with each person – three to five minutes is more than enough time to exchange names, business contacts and a little about what each other does. This will afford you the opportunity to connect with other attendees who just be afraid to work the room.
4. Break The Ice With a Sincere Compliment
Don’t get stuck on “hello”. Briefly look over your potential connection and offer a sincere compliment about whatever you genuinely like. Whether it’s their hair, outfit, shoes or whatever, just be sure you mean it. One of the best ice breakers is to give a personal compliment so just remember, sincerity goes a long way.
5. Don’t Judge Appearances
We tend to gravitate to people who fit the stereotype of what a “successful” person looks like. Don’t be discouraged just because a person is not wearing a suit or appears to be dressed casual. Leave your snap judgements at the door and start a conversation.
6. Save The Indulgent Self-Promotion
When you approach someone, be sure to ask them questions and allow them to answer them. No one wants to be subjected to a “me, me, me” conversation, so remember that networking involves an exchange of information between two or more people. Don’t let the conversation be all about business (especially yours) and be mindful not to jump right into what you do and how you do it.
7. Let The Conversation Flow
Don’t force anything. Introduce yourself with a firm handshake, a smile and state your full name. Ask how they became interested in what they do and what they like about it. Most people enjoy talking about themselves, so this should catapult the discussion. Stay focused on this person while they speak and be sure to listen fully. Give them a chance to complete their responses and either respond with something in-kind or continue to ask questions. If it’s genuine, there will be mutual exchange of information.
8. Be Specific About What You Do and How You Can Offer Assistance
Your first question should not always be “what do you do?”, but when you do get around to discussing what you do, be very specific about it. Elaborate with how your services or products can benefit the person you’re in conversation with. Now is a good time to even discuss potential collaborations and partnerships.
9. Have Intent to Connect When You Take or Offer a Business Card
Don’t take and give business cards simply for the sake of doing it. If you take a person’s card, be specific about when you’ll connect. Whether you tell them you’ll connect the next day or in a few days, mean it! Follow up with a “nice to meet” you email invite the person to a phone discussion or in-person meeting to learn more about them and their business.
10. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Stay away from questions warranting a “yes” or “no” response. A good example is, “what made you become interested in human resources” versus “how many years have you been working in human resources”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]