Networking is a great way to open up new opportunities, whether you want to build your business, grow relationships or find a job.
Here are some easy tips to network with others and build connections that don’t feel like hard work
One of the most important things you can do to be successful at networking is to be prepared before you enter the room.
- – Get an elevator pitch. The ‘elevator pitch’ is the short introduction to yourself, your business, or the product you want to talk about. Make it short, snappy, and positive.
- – Know your strengths. Note down all your skills, experiences, and abilities.
- – Plan a strategy. What do you want to get out of networking? Write down who you want to meet, what you want to learn, and what you are looking for.
- – Research attendees. Conferences and events will often provide lists of delegates and speakers in advance. Research who is attending and how they fit in with your strategy.
- – Email in advance. If you know there is someone you really want to meet, you could email them in advance to make a digital introduction and say you’d love to catch up at the event.
- -Get business cards. Try a site like Moo to make something fresh and creative to hand out to people you want to stay in touch with after networking.
On The Day
Once you’re at your event, there are lots of tricks to help you build on your preparation.
- – Listen. Smile, be friendly, ask questions, and make sure you listen when other people are speaking, rather than scouting the room for the next person you want to speak to.
- – Introduce other people. If someone doesn’t fit in with your strategy, introduce them to other people you’ve met that can help them. Not only will it be good for them, but they will remember you and may do the same in return.
- – Be open. Don’t limit yourself to only speaking to people on your list. You never know if other people will be able to introduce you to someone.
- – Don’t apologise. You don’t need to say sorry when you’re asking someone for a business card or advice. If you feel nervous asking for help, remember your own strengths and ask if there’s anything you can do for the person in return.
- – Say thank you. When you are ready to move on, exchange cards (if appropriate), let the person know it’s been nice to meet them, and say thank you for their time.
It’s crucial to follow up with your new connections after a networking event.
- – Get in touch. Email or phone anyone you promised to email within two days of the event so you are fresh in their mind.
- – Connect online. Use business card details to follow people on twitter or LinkedIn, and keep the connection going.
- – Prepare for rejection. Not everyone will want to or be able to help you. If someone says no, dust yourself off and look to the next connection.
You may still feel shy about networking, but there’s more you can do to gain confidence.
- – Start with family and friends. If you’re really timid, try networking with a group of trusted family and friends.
- – Work at an event. Organise an event yourself or volunteer to help at one. You’ll get the opportunity to meet lots of people in a structured way, and can build up your confidence.
- – Fake it ‘til you make it. Lots of people feel shy and nervous when they are networking. Some people find that feigning confidence can help them feel confident for real.
- – Do things you love. Try joining a class or going to an event based on something you’re interested in, and grow your networking skills there.
What tips do you have for people who want to be successful at networking?
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