Even in this era of social media marketing, meeting with others physically is still one of the top ways to reach people and establish relationships. Therefore, if you dream of having a successful business, you must embrace networking. It is the most effective way of getting professional contacts, and opening doors to new opportunities.
Just like in any relationship, networking avails the opportunity to know each other, find ways you can benefit from someone, and know how you can be helpful to them in return. You are not just meeting, greeting, sharing your contacts, and heading to the next person, but you need to develop a relationship that will make the other individual desire to meet you again as well. This might work best face-to-face, but if you are a company that deals with international clients, you may find the use of a virtual event platform beneficial in a similar way. Such tools can help you meet new people and engage with them while attending the event from different parts of the world. Either way, you would require certain networking skills if you want to leave an impression or be remembered by potential clients.
Here are networking tips you should include in your networking arsenal.
Do Some Homework
Who do you expect to meet in that networking event? What are the first words that will come out of your mouth when you meet them? Prepare a list of queries that will help build a conversation all through to the end. Knowing those who will be attending the meeting will help you focus on people with interest in your industry and career, and avoid wasting time on those who do not care about anything you do. While all relationships with business people can be important, you should always aspire to connect with those that could be helpful to you right away, and those who you feel can influence you the most.
Arrive on Time
Make it habit to arrive early at any meeting you attend. When you arrive first, you will realize the place is calm and quiet – most people will be sitting alone. With such an environment, you can approach individuals easily and trigger conversations. Being the first to talk to someone will leave a lasting memory as the first person to talk to them. Arriving early also shows a lot about your work ethic. Start as you mean to go on, people will appreciate that you respect their event enough to be prompt.
Smiling does not just make it easy for others to approach you, it also calms your nerves down. So, any time you enter a room or want to start a conversation, ensure you have it on your face. Show genuine interest in what the other person is sharing and respond appropriately. Smiling helps people to feel like you’re a nice and reliable person, those who frown are far less easy to trust.
Some people mistake a networking event to be a place to share everything about themselves. Inasmuch as you want to tell others about yourself, ensure you let the other party speak. Be the listener on most occasions. Too much talking will portray you as someone who is uninterested. Ask simple questions and be open to learning from the answers you get. Use their fast name in the conversation as you suggest topics that are simple to discuss.
As you network, you don’t want to be selling your products and business to others. Instead, be a little casual while talking about self and what you do. Remember that you are trying to build relationships and therefore make it easy and fun for the other person. People will want to trade with someone they enjoy their company.
Networking is where the conversation starts. Therefore, you need to get contacts from this person and follow them up within 48 hours after the event. Find them on social media and interact with them on what they post. Some people forget stuff easily. In this case, reference on matters you discussed before to remind them how and when you met. It’s best to find them on LinkedIn and send them a quick follow-up that reads something like ‘it was great meeting you today’, just to make sure they remember your conversation.
Networking events are usually awkward, intimidating, and full of pressure. If your intention is to collect a given number of business cards, you might end up frustrated and uncomfortable. Having a simple goal like making one friend from this meeting can come in handy and help you have stronger relationships.