5 Tips to Make Networking More Effective
5 Tips to Make Networking More Effective
Done correctly, networking can be an incredibly powerful tool for advancing your career and finding new opportunities. Effective networking can help you find a job, grow your business, establish new relationships, meet the perfect collaborators, and open doors you didn't even know existed. It's no wonder some of the most successful and impactful people in this world constantly remind us about the importance of networking.
Getting the most out of networking, however, is about more than just showing up and talking to people. You need to create a good impression, cultivate useful leads, and understand how to have the kinds of conversations that truly matters to both parties.
Networking isn't a skill that comes easily to everyone. Indeed, some people fear it as much as public speaking and positively hate it. But meeting new people and making new connections doesn't have to be an anxiety-inducing trial. With practice it can become easier and more comfortable. And when that happens it will become one of the most important skills in your professional and personal growth.
Here are five tips to help you make the most of any networking opportunity.
When it comes to networking a little preparation can go a long way. Of course, there ae the very basics. Dress well. Be on time. Research the organizers and the attendees. Get into a positive mindset. But the most important thing you can do is to decide what you want to accomplish and set your goals. This will help you be effective, efficient and not only have a resultful event but also a great networking experience.
It's also worth thinking in advance about how you might answer the most common questions: "What do you do?", “What brings you here?”, “What are you looking to accomplish?” You're bound to be asked these at some point during any networking event. You might be surprised at just how hard it is to answer these if you haven't prepared. Create and practice some solid answers to these questions so you will feel strong and confident when you deliver your answer.
- Have some great openers
Starting a conversation with a complete stranger can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it's a lot easier when you have some topics of conversation in mind. Your opener can be as simple as a general open ended question that allows the other person to answer easily, and move in many directions without any pressure. All the opener needs to do is break the ice. “Hi my name is ____, so what brings you to this event?” is a good example.
It's also wise to take interest in the other person and focus on them. This helps you to establish rapport immediately. You could ask someone how they like working at their company, and what they find enjoyable about their job, or how you could be of help to them. Openers that show an interest in the other person are fantastic, as they make you seem considerate, engaged, kind and curious.
Listening isn't as easy as most people think; listening properly takes energy and effort. Stay focused on the conversation, resist the urge to interrupt, and use active listening techniques to make sure you heard and understood them correctly. The worst thing you can do is to stop listening and in your mind, start preparing your answer or your next question while they are still talking.
When someone new tells you their name, repeat it in your head three or four times immediately so it get recorded in your short term memory. Then use it often while you are replying to them and look at their face when you are talking. This will help you move their name to your long term memory so you can remember their name later on.
It's worth giving each and every conversation your full attention, even if you can't see yourself working with the person you're talking to. An in-depth conversation can often reveal unexpected connections or opportunities for collaboration. You never know what kinds of doors their connections can open for you.
- Make notes
At any networking event you're likely to encounter a lot of new faces; faces which you'll soon forget if you don't record some details. Take a few minutes as soon as possible after the event to sit down and make notes. Did you meet anyone who struck you as interesting? Did you talk to anyone you might work with in the future? Who seemed to have some great connections that you may want to reach out to? Who recommended that you get in touch with that person or look into that company? Make a note now before you forget.
Some people like to make notes directly onto business cards or a notebook. Some use recording apps on their phones or other devices. Make sure to add on personal details or information about how you might collaborate later. When you next look at your notes, you'll instantly be reminded of the ideas that you had, what you could do for them and how this contact might be useful to you.
- Follow up
It may seem obvious, but many people fail to follow up after networking events. If you make a connection with someone at an event, don't delay dropping them an email, connecting with them on social media or sending or sending them a thank you note afterwards. By initiating contact while your meeting is still fresh in their mind, you're much more likely to capitalize on that connection.
If you promised to do something for them or get them some information, do so immediately. If they asked you to get in touch with someone, do not wait, get it done right away. If they gave you some advice, implement it quickly and let them know what the results were. Initiative and follow through shows caring, respect and professionalism.
Networking is one of the single most powerful tools you have at your disposal. Don't let nerves prevent you from using it. Used effectively, it can make a huge improvement in your professional and personal life. It can connect you with individuals that can change your life for the better. With the tips above you'll be able to make the most of your next networking event and maybe even enjoy it as well!
By Rafael Tomik – Career Transition Coach – BeGreat.com
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