Having the right professional contacts is an essential part of building a business. One of the most effective ways to build these contacts is to network. The trick to successful networking is to stay calm and approach it in way that doesn’t give off the impression that you are only out to get things from other people.
Here are our top five tips to get you started on your networking journey:
Prepare; ask yourself what your goals are when attending a networking event and if you can, find out who is on the guest list and identify the people you think you can work with. Always do a little background research on them so that you can have more meaningful conversations. Giving yourself a little direction will help make you feel at ease once at the networking event and will also help you to be a little more efficient.
Build genuine connections: we are social beings and we value strong, genuine social connections. One way to do this, is to ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Asking such questions, will open up discussion a bit more and allow both sides to learn more about each other and therefore create a better connection.
Actively listen: fully concentrate, understand then respond. We have conversations all day and most of us will just listen to respond, you want to be memorable and by demonstrating genuine interest by actively listening you are more likely to be remembered.
Give back: learn how you can help each connection. You want your connections to remember you and get in touch. If you are able to get them to turn to you for ideas, names of people, advise etc.. They are then more likely to support you in your endeavors when you need them.
Clearly articulate what you are looking for: yes, it is important to demonstrate that you are here to help others, but you must also ensure that you are able to articulate your needs. It has been proven that our minds can absorb three key points at a time, so think about what you want and put it into three key clear points.
Networking can be challenging but if you prepare and use relationship building techniques like active listening, seeking out ways to give back and asking better questions you are more likely to feel at ease and be more successful. Good luck!