Making a few meaningful connections is often better than working an entire room – 7 Ways to Boost Your Networking Skills
Networking lets you put your best face forward. No matter what profession you’re in, networking is the fuel that accelerates success. Not only is it useful for learning directly from individuals you meet, but the benefits of association and growing your own authority is very powerful. So? here are seven ways to up your networking game.
Before you think about networking, remove the word “working” from your system. It’s likely that the people you’re trying to reach get approached by dozens, if not hundreds, of people just like you; and it’s not difficult for them to weed out the people who are “putting on a face.” The best networking comes from genuine relationships, not a business card exchange. No matter whom you’re trying to build a relationship with, treating that person as a friend rather than a business contact will take you much further with the relationship. So, think about how you would approach a potential friend. Find something you have in common, keep it light, make jokes, and above all, show that you care.
Just showing up a conference to hopefully meet some people won’t cut it. You need to network with purpose. It could as simple as setting a goal to get five business cards from potential suppliers or finding out what the competition doing. Or aim higher and secure a follow-up meeting with a big client. Setting goals will help you focus and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s over, too.
Quality over quantity
Many people think that networking means meeting as many people as possible. That’s not so. Making a few meaningful connections is often better than working an entire room. If you can have three or four deeper conversations, then you and the people you meet will be more likely to remember the interaction.
Do your research
It’s important to know who’s going to be at an event, which you can often do by checking social media–conference hashtags on Twitter are a good place to start. Then make a shortlist of people you want to meet. Do some Googling and view LinkedIn profiles so when you do meet someone new you’ll know something about them.
There is no Specific Time and Place to Network:
Networking can happen anywhere and at any time. Not necessarily at networking events. Most times you show up at an event, stand around, and expect people to come up and talk to you. Be proactive and start conversations with others. This does not mean you have to be the center of attention and the life of the party. Simply be yourself and the rest will fall into place, on your way to the grocery store, while jogging, networking is simply being open to meeting people that can help you in the course of your journey.
Stop Interrupting: While in a networking session, be patient when waiting to talk to a group of people. A group of three or more can be daunting but stand back and let social cues take the reins. It is a good idea to stand just within eyesight. Once there is a break in the group’s conversation, they will notice. Simply ask to chat later.
Social media counts
If you’ve ever used LinkedIn, you know how powerful social networks can be for real networking. Engaging with people online is important for workers of all ages, but particularly if you want to make contacts with younger prospects or companies working in a digital space. Remember, though, nothing solidifies a business relationship like meeting face-to-face.
While these tips will help you network more successfully, the more people you meet the easier it will get. It won’t take long before you figure out what types of conversations work best and how to make a meaningful first impression.
This article was first published on www.inc.com
Cover photo: Leighann Renee