How to Become a Networking Pro
March 7, 2018
Effective networking and running a business is a classic combination – like jelly and ice cream or Laurel and Hardy, it just works.
However, even our most successful business entrepreneurs can dread the idea of walking into a room and introducing themselves to a group of strangers. It’s a daunting, often unimaginable task.
We appreciate that to be confident in your area of expertise and confident as an individual are two very different things, and so we want to share some useful hints and tips to help dissolve those nerves and help you flourish with the confidence you need to share your greatest assets – your knowledge, expertise and above all, your ability to run a successful business.
Know What You Want to Achieve
It is important that you approach any networking opportunity with a clear objective of what you want to achieve. This will not only help boost your confidence by giving you a sense of purpose, but it will allow you to prepare by shaping topics of conversation you plan to use before you enter the room. As we all know, winning is the science of being totally prepared.
Take an Informal Approach
Engage with people through lighthearted, introductory topics. By creating easy conversations, you will keep the exchange light and will to begin to build genuine relationships. People are much more likely to do business with people they feel comfortable around and whose company they enjoy on an informal level.
Most conversations begin by asking a question, everyone knows this. However, when networking, those initial conversation starters are best kept simple. It’s much easier to get a conversation started by asking “How are you?” or “What brings you to this event?” than trying to impress with a highly-thought out, complex introduction – which will more than likely end with a blank response or an awkward pause.
Your most valuable tool when taking part in any form of networking is listening. If you’re not a natural extrovert, and you do find these situations daunting, use this to your advantage and listen to responses from people intently. Listening is a great way to really get to know a person, plus it will show you’re interested in what they have to say – and that will always make a good first impression.
Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. You can easily leave a lasting impression by telling a story about what inspired you to start your business, what makes you tick and what your future aspirations are. Talking passionately about what you enjoy is often contagious and can create a memorable two-way conversation.
Stay in Touch
Networking is where the conversation begins, not where it ends. If you have a great exchange with someone, act on it and ask the best way to stay in touch. Connecting on social media sites such as LinkedIn is also a great way to further establish your relationship. Not only will you have access to their professional history and recent activity, you will also be exposed to their own network of professionals.