Networking is an important part of building both business and personal relationships and typically requires some tact and a deeper understanding of social cues and situations. For those who tend to be more introverted or who may be new to attending networking events, the pressure to be both effective and captivating can be stifling. However, networking is a valuable skill to sharpen, which can help to garner mutually beneficial relationships, market yourself or your business, and potentially acquire new clients or customers.
First, be mindful of which events and venues you choose to attend. Not every networking event is going to be the right fit for you or your business. In fact, there are usually several different networking opportunities that can be found in your area every month through Chambers of Commerce, men’s and women’s organizations, networking groups, special interest groups, or pop up business events to attend. At first, attend a few different kinds of events to help gauge which groups and settings are right for you. Look for events which feel more comfortable to you and fit your style, these venues may draw in a group of people who may share similar interests and/or become potential clients.
- Introverts who avoid networking are making a critical career mistake.
- At least 70-80% of jobs are not published.
- Networking is typically the best way to land a job.
- Networking isn’t solely about building your list of contacts, it’s about enriching the lives of those around you and offering help.
- Networking is a great way to learn about a specific industry or career field to see if it interests you, establish relationships with people, learn about job openings, and get comfortable speaking about yourself and your career interests.
- Attending networking events can be a great opportunity for business growth, by learning more about the trends of your target market.
- Networking allows you to create a reputation for being knowledgeable and experienced in your field, as well as active in the local business economy.
- Pushing yourself to approach new people at a networking event can serve as a great way to build confidence.
Remember, networking isn’t meant to be a hard sell. Rather than over-promoting yourself (a common mistake made at networking events), listen and engage with others. Your mindset while attending networking events shouldn’t be to land a new client or find a job great opportunity, but to build lasting relationships. Listen attentively to the people you’re speaking to and be aware of the words you’re using to drive the conversation. Your goal should be to learn more about the other person, their business, and their real needs before attempting to sell yourself, your business, or your services to them. When people can sense you’re really listening to what they have to say, it will make a great first impression and you’ll have a much better chance of building a relationship which could be beneficial to you both later on. Be authentic and find common interests or pain points, which you can bring into the conversation to connect.
- Networking is really the process of meeting people and engaging in conversation. It’s not meant to be a sales call or a job interview.
- Think about how you can make genuinely helpful connections for others at networking events, as well. These people will remember you and most likely reciprocate the favor.
- It’s best to have genuine and useful relationships with as many people as possible.
Always remember to strive to make a great impression through use of your facial expressions, tone of voice, body posture, and dress. Aim to be confident and easy going, as if networking comes easily to you. The goal is to establish yourself as a successful person through each of these forms of self-expression, and seeming nervous or unsure of what to do or say will have the opposite effect the people you’re networking with. Come to the event prepared with plenty of business cards, but choose to give them only to those who are truly interested in what you do, and a brief 10-15 second elevator pitch, which describes what you do.
- Be ready for potential opportunities that may come your way during a networking event, by preparing an elevator speech (a brief statement introducing yourself with a few important facts used to generate conversation).
- Attend networking events prepared with five interesting questions that can spark great conversation.
- Ask for information and advice, and come prepared with a short list of questions to ask or interesting/relevant topics to discuss.
- Use the person’s first name that you’re talking to a few times throughout your conversation at a networking event.
- Keep a record of all the contacts you make at networking events, and take note of any follow-ups that may be needed, to stay organized and effectively monitor your progress.
- Following a structured networking process will enhance your productivity and increase the likelihood of reaching goals at networking events.
While at the event, be sure to connect with as many people as possible. You should get some information about the person, exchange business cards when appropriate, and end each conversation politely. If you do make a good connection with someone at an event, send a note to follow up and mention how much you enjoyed meeting them. It’s also a great idea to send an article or some other information which they might find helpful, based off of your previous conversation. It’s also a great idea to invite them to a one-on-one meeting to get to know them better and strengthen the relationship. Remember, most business people attending networking events are looking to establish connections.
- When meeting with a new connection, do some research and come prepared with at least two areas of common interest.
- Invest in your network by following up and providing feedback to those who were kind enough to offer advice and assistance.
- When meeting with a new contact, provide a brief overview of your skills, experiences and what you’re looking for. Be sure to bring your resume and ask for advice, connections, and suggestions.
- To establish rapport, find a reason to continue the relationship. Look for two or three opportunities every year to reconnect with the members of your network.