Tips For Successful Networking
Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business.
But many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers. If you’re like me and naturally quiet, even a little shy, it’s hard! Following are a few tips I’ve learned from some extremely successful networkers.
1. Resist the urge to arrive late. It sounds odd, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than getting there on the later side. As an early attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter – and people won’t have settled into groups yet. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet.
2. Ask easy questions. Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. Take a deep breath and go! To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies. If you’re not a natural extrovert, you’re probably a very good listener – and listening can be an excellent way to get to know a person.
3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. NO ONE likes to feel they’ve been sold. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don’t need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy. You are at a social event after all.
4. Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company or why you got into your line of work. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
5. Smile. It’s a simple – but often overlooked – rule of engagement. By smiling, you’ll put your nervous self at ease, and you’ll also come across as warm and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation.
6. Don’t hijack the conversation. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
7. Remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.
And finally, but most importantly – Be Yourself! Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. You’ll come across as fake and insincere the one thing you DON’T want to be remembered for.
Networking can be fun once you get the hang of it and your bottom line will reflect your effort!