Networking can seem daunting at first, especially if you have the tendency to be shy and introverted. Fobbing it off may seem like you’re dodging an night of awkward interactions and embarrassment but in reality you’re missing out on an opportunity that could catapult your business into the stratosphere. So, If you’re new to networking or you just want to make sure that you have a great and productive time, we have some tips to make the most of your interactions.
1) Plan Your Intentions Before The Event.
Ask yourself – Why are you going?
What do you hope to achieve by attending?
Who is it you want to meet to help you move your business forward?
Do you need a business coach, a business partner, venture partner or something else?
Did you notice that I did not say “client”? In networking, as with any social interaction, it becomes very obvious and sometimes off putting if someone is only there for themselves. You need to figure out if your time is best spent chatting with other participants, or should you be investing time and energy into getting to know the organisers and influencers?
2) Maintain Your Contacts.
While making new connections is brilliant, it is always best to keep an eye on and maintain the ones you already have. Look for celebratory moments in your networks lives, like a birthday, anniversary, new job, promotion or professional development milestone to congratulate them on and keep in touch with!
3) Be The Best Version Of Yourself.
Now is your time to shine! If you’re naturally introverted this is not the go ahead to hide in the bathroom. You should feel relaxed, natural and genuine when conversing with someone – this incredibly important if you’re trying to connect with someone you might view as ‘above’ you in some way. It’s important to remember that they were once new in their industry too, people aren’t too different from you.
4) Learn From Others.
For successful networking you need to learn from others. You will meet many people that know more than you, so treat networking as a great way to learn from others. Ask more questions and more importantly, listen to the answers! People enjoy talking about themselves, to be a great conversationalist you need to acknowledge this. The best way to keep conversation following is to show your interest by asking open ended questions.
“No one lives long enough to learn everything they need to learn starting from scratch. To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals.” – Brian Tracy.
5) Follow Up Like a Professional.
In the world of business, your word is law, and your integrity is a valuable currency.
If you say you’re going to do something (eg. connect a person to someone else, send an email, book a meeting), then you must do it. You also want to follow up within 24-48 hours, so the memory of your meeting is still fresh in both your minds. Following up can seem daunting at first, especially if you are the first to get in contact, but if you can learn how to follow up like a professional, it is a skill that you can make use of forever.
Have you got any networking tips and tricks that have worked for you? If that’s a YES, we’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below! And, don’t forget to check back next week for another dose of business inspiration!
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