Many business professionals are keen networkers these days. It’s seen as a great way to grow your business and be a part of your local business community. But achieving these kind of results is easier said than done, wouldn’t you agree? There’s a lot of do’s and dont’s concerning networking it’s hard to know just how effective you really are at it. So we have devised some of our top tips to help you strengthen your networking skills and become more effective at generating results from your connections.
Make sure you are prepared and think about the impression you want to make on others. What are the unique points about you and how does your business stand out from the rest? How are you going to make yourself memorable? What questions are you going to ask people to show you are interested in them? By thinking of these factors ahead of the event, you automatically feel more relaxed and prepared, as well as it helping you to avoid any awkward silences. There’s no need to rehearse it as you don’t want it to come off unnatural, but just thinking about what key points you want to get across to individuals makes any networking experience easier and more enjoyable.
First Impressions Matter
Networking can be a scary thought for many, but its a key way for you to control how you and your brand are perceived by your business community. You only get one chance to make a first impression and so you better make it a good one. But how? The most important thing is to smile and look happy, to make it look like you are enjoying yourself, allowing you to give off a friendly and positive vibe to your fellow networkers. This also should make you more approachable. When introducing yourself give a firm hand shake with strong eye contact, so that you ooze confidence even if you’re not.
Going straight in with the hard sell before even giving anyone the time of day is a big turn off for many, that business professionals don’t take well too. This is not a good way to form a new relationship and engage a potential new client / customer. Form the foundations of your relationship first by getting to know the individual, before you talk business.
Help Others Succeed
Don’t be selfish and just be in the networking game for yourself. But instead come across as a business professional that likes to give back and help others succeed. You can do this through offering your own advice and expertise to people, or referring and recommending them to other connections you may have. Doing this will form better long-lasting relationships and chances are they will return the favor at some point in the future. Even if they dont, it adds to your credibility and enhances your reputation in a positive light.
Be A Good Listener
Its ideal to present yourself to others, but it is key that you don’t just make the conversation all about you. Its vital you engage with others if you are going to make worthwhile connections. Listen to their story and what they have to offer, ask sincere and genuine questions to dig deeper and respond appropriately back. Listen to their needs and issues and see if you can provide any help or solutions. Take note of who they are and remember what they’ve said, this will make it easier to converse with them next time. All of this helps to develop a stronger relationship since it shows you are interested and are making an effort with them.
Quality Over Quantity
Quality is without a doubt the key to success when it comes to networking, much more than quantity anyway. You shouldn’t attend networking events with the intention to try and make as many connections as you can with everyone in the room, as this isn’t a valuable use of your time. Instead it is better to have a few quality conversations with people that could be of value to you, so that you can really get to know them. Rather than quick and blunt conversations with lots of people. You are much more likely to gain success through the long deeper conversations. To get a solid foundation in any relationship, especially one in business it requires communication and patience. The key thing to remember is quantity networkers are forgettable, quality networkers are unforgettable.
Of course you should acknowledge individuals you have met previously to build a stronger relationship, but you should also balance this carefully with meeting new people. Step outside your comfort zone and make an effort, you never know what opportunities these new individuals could hold for you, or someone else already in your network. Or even what you could do for them.
Create a list of people that you have met at networking, especially those that you want to stay in touch with because there could be mutual benefits within forming such relationship. Make sure you have their contact details and social media platforms so that you can connect and engage with them little by little, so they really get to know who you are. The more you keep in touch the better the relationship will become afterwards, and the stronger chance you have of generating leads and growth from such relationship. Additionally make sure you have memorable and well designed business cards to hand, so that others can follow you up afterwards too.
People only think about physical networking, but you can realistically network at anytime, anywhere. After networking events connect with the individuals via LinkedIn. This enables them to see your profile in greater depth and get more of a flavor about who you are and what you do and allows you to engage with their posts in the form of comments, likes and shares, so that you can develop your relationship from home. Again this gives you an angle to work with next time you see them, whether its talking about an article they posted, or a anniversary they celebrated etc.
People expect networking to work almost immediately for them, when in reality its something that you have to stick at and be consistent with whether it be physically or online. You can’t just expect to attend networking events one time and have the leads and growth you wished for. You have to be patient and give it a chance, as relationships take time to develop and grow. Therefore attending the events regularly is going to get your name out there and allow you to meet more business professionals. You never know when an opportunity will arise through networking, unfortunately we don’t have the answer to that, which is why its important to always be ready.
Only Network If You Want Too
A tip that nobody ever talks about! Only attend networking events if you are going to use it to your full advantage. Never feel like you have to go to be able to succeed in business. If you turn up to an event, in a negative mindset about it, you will give off a negative vibe to others with the impression that you dont want to be there. This will cast you and your business in a negative light, and could be very harmful to your brand and gaining new customers and clients, as well as impacting your reputation.
We hope these top networking tips have inspired you to become a better more effective networker. If you would like to know more, or get involved with our club then contact us here.