As much as you hate the thought of networking, guess what – everyone does it every day of their lives. Honestly, every interaction you have with a stranger or someone you already know can be classed as networking. Often, people assume that networking is purely for business or professional purposes when we all have personal networks too.
Frequently, people are afraid of the term networking and attending events specifically for that purpose. In this article, we’ll give you five essential tips for networking, helping you break down that barrier and become a master of the craft. No matter your job role or level of experience, if you want to know how to get better at networking, follow these tips, and you’re sure to get the results you’re looking for.
For some lucky few individuals, networking comes completely naturally. However, most of us have to take time to perfect the art. There’s no better way to hone your skills than to practice. Get out there and attend as many networking events as possible. Nobody walks into their first event knowing how to be good at networking. It’s a matter of trial and error, adapting to your environment, and being able to hold a conversation with anyone in the room.
Remember, most people in the room have the same feelings as you – nervous, lacking confidence, unsure who to talk to, and don’t know what to talk about. More often than not, many people gravitate toward people they already know rather than actually expanding their network.
It’s easier said than done, but bite the bullet and talk to new people. A great way to do this and feel a little more comfortable is to leverage your existing network. If you want to meet someone in particular and you have a mutual friend, ask them to introduce you to them.
One of the secrets of how to be good at networking is to ask the host of the event to provide you with a list of people attending the event. Then, you can research these individuals and make a shortlist of who the top people you’d like to meet are. The people who get the most from networking are those who are prepared.
Too many of us waste time talking to people who neither of us can benefit from. If you have a particular goal in mind for your networking event, such as building rapport with an exec at a company you want to work for or trying to make a connection and sell your services, then knowing who is attending helps with this.
Our next bit of advice for networking is to let other people do the talking. Obviously, don’t stand there silently, but you should be inquisitive, ask questions, and facilitate conversation. The key to being good at networking is to be a good conversationalist, listener, and when needed, advice giver.
When you give other people an opportunity to speak and voice their opinion, they will believe you’re interested in what they have to say. It makes them feel more confident and comfortable in your presence, helping conversation flow naturally.
A networking event is a place to make connections and establish relationships beneficial for both parties moving forward. There are very rare occasions when closing a deal or discussing job opportunities will happen. However, these are conversations had away from networking events, in private, or amongst people who already know each other relatively well.
Diving in at the deep end and attempting to sell yourself or your products and services puts you in a position where other networkers think you aren’t genuine – that you’re only there for your personal gain and not to assist them in any way.
The fortune is in the follow-up. Whether you were briefly introduced to someone or had a lengthy and meaningful conversation, you still need to find a reason to follow up. Everyone meets many people at a networking event, so many that they all blur into one, and only a couple of memorable people stand out. However, if you follow up, thanking them for their time, letting them know it was great to meet them, and you’re looking forward to chatting more soon – you’ll definitely be remembered.
Traditional printed business cards have been a good servant to networking events over the years, but it’s time for digital to take over. One incredibly impressive way you can make yourself stand out is with one of our NFC digital business cards. Anyone you meet simply puts their phone near your card, and your details pop up on their screen, ready to be added to their contacts and address book.
This is a game-changer for networkers. It makes interactions memorable and stops you from being added to a pile of never-to-be-seen-again business cards at the bottom of drawers or in the trash.
Now you know how to get the most out of networking, get out there, implement our tips, and build a network that everyone will be envious of.