5 tips on how to instantly become a networking pro
Networking is torture for a lot of people, and often feels forced and unnatural. That said, there are still many reasons why it is well worth networking and expanding your contacts. Business networking can help you initiate new projects, acquire new potential customers, attract new contacts and employees, expand your social network, and even to help you get a new job. In this article we are going to give you some tips that will help you become a bona fide networker.
Be yourself at social networking events
Smiling, having a friendly aura, being attentive, showing interest and asking questions are vital for successful networking.
Preparation is essential
Depending on what your goal is, it could well be a good idea to ask yourself a few vital questions in advance. For instance, how do you go about finding the right event to achieve your networking goal? One thing you could do is go on social media sites to see who else is attending the event. We often underestimate those really important personal contacts we find through friends and relatives, who can give you a really valuable contact or introduce you to an important event. By making these brief, effective preparations, you will be more than ready for networking events.
Business cards – an absolute must
There is no disputing the importance of social media and online networking. Business networking on LinkedIn and XING can open lots of new doors for you, and Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram are being used more and more for networking purposes. And yet – or maybe it is precisely because of this abundance of digital information – a physical business card remains at the heart of networking. So, when you come round to creating it, be sure to include key information on it in a clear and organized fashion. Always keep your business card on you and exchange contact details during meetings. Next, write notes or anecdotes about the person on the back of the card so you know exactly who it is, as this will make contacting them successfully much easier.
Networking is about consistency.
Successful networking is about using the details you have obtained to actually contact the person, whether by e-mail, over the phone or face to face. After meeting once, it is vital to keep in contact with the person on a regular basis.
Meeting up in person after networking events
What should you bear in mind when you meet contacts for a second time (and beyond) after your first successful meeting? If you want to not only impress your new contact on paper, but with your own social skills as well, you should be prepared to meet. Find out in advance what might be of interest to the person you’re meeting, and try and avoid taboo topics or gossip. Good discussions will focus on the purpose of your meeting, your company, but also personal interests, which really help with networking.
If there is a bill involved, it is traditionally the case in business networking that the person who suggested the restaurant (and so the price bracket) should pay.
Even the most reluctant networkers can come up with a strategy to help them persevere in their own way. As with many things in life, practice makes perfect, and the more you get used to networking, the more natural it will feel. In the end, networking can only be a good thing as it helps you expand both your professional and personal network.