The idea of networking with and meeting people is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you find yourself simultaneously wishing to drown in a vat of chocolate and avoid big crowds. But networking isn’t difficult – it just takes practice to get good at.
So how can you become a networking Jedi? There’s a subtle art to networking, and this isn’t something you can learn in an article. However, there are several tips and tricks you can use to up your networking game instantly. In this piece, we take a closer look at the key factors that contribute to becoming a networking pro.
What is networking and why is it important?
Business networking refers to the practice of developing mutually beneficial relationships with other entrepreneurs and future clients or customers. Networking may help you find employment, attract investors, and even secure clients. This art allows you to tap into a pool of professionals ranging from competitors to clients, and provide them with some reward in exchange for their services, advice, information or relationships.
However, networking isn’t the same as selling, and it is important to remove that idea from your mind. Because networking is all about finding possibilities, you should spend time asking questions about the person you’re speaking with and their company, to see if they have any problems you can solve.
Networking is a fantastic way to share best practices, learn about your peers’ company strategies, and keep up with the latest industry trends. A large network of well-informed, linked connections offers more opportunities to learn new things. The ability to learn new things is an often-overlooked benefit of networking, because it isn’t the most visible component of our interactions.
Tips for business networking
The entire “professional growth” process may be rather complicated and daunting. The art of networking is a skill that takes time to master and requires purposeful practice, just like any other ability that one wishes to acquire. There is no formula that will ensure the successful development of your networking skills. You might fail and not reach your desired goals, and even quit the process. However, if you maintain the proper mindset and expectations, you will undoubtedly learn something.
Listen with purpose
Networking takes time and effort. It begins with genuine interest in the other person and what they have to say. Listen carefully to their responses to indicate your sincerity. If one thing is true, it is that individuals learn more when their lips are sealed and their ears are tuned in to what others are saying. Pose open-ended questions such as “how,” “who,” and “why.” This will assist in starting conversations and demonstrating your interest. What you can learn from others will certainly astound you.
Humble individuals do not think less of themselves; instead, they think about themselves less. Most people will sprint away from you at top speed if you transmit the sense that you are the most important person on the planet. Focusing on where your abilities intersect with the other person’s experience or needs is a useful technique for demonstrating an appropriate level of humility. You can strengthen the foundation for future interactions if you focus on developing that critical connection bridge.
Be helpful and add value
Instead of looking for methods to bring value to yourself, look for ways to provide value to others. The more value you provide to others around you, the more value you will receive. This approach might be as basic as listening to others, but it may be advantageous to go beyond that. In a networking encounter, you can’t always be the answer to the problem that the other person is seeking to find a solution for. However, you may assist others by offering your thoughts on how you would tackle their situation.
Professionals frequently make networking interactions appear transactional. However, the fact is that establishing your network entails connecting with other individuals, being a relationship-based product rather than a sales product. You’re not attempting to sell anything to people, especially not the first time you meet them. Building connections, trust and credibility should be the main goal of networking. Although you may have a service or item that is relevant to the participants, a hard pitch in this setting is typically ineffective and does not make a good first impression. Helping others, after all, is at the heart of networking.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You should be prepared to outline what you do and the value it delivers while networking. But that’s the end of it. Nobody wants to hear you recite paragraphs from your resume. It’s also crucial to ask questions in order to show that you’re interested in the person you’re meeting. If you have trouble coming up with conversation starters, keeping a mental list of questions or subjects to bring up is a useful trick. Read up on relevant business news and trends ahead of time so you’ll be ready to start a conversation and get other people’s opinions on things that interest you both.
If you have a bad memory, put a pen and paper in your pocket and scribble down the main points. Make a list of everything you learn about that individual, any plans you have to follow up on, and ways you might be able to help in the future.
End on a high note
While we should not hurry through conversations, there are occasions when we must abandon ship. If you want to get out of a conversation, try asking “Have you seen any [business name] executives tonight? I’ve been meaning to talk to them “or “Please keep me updated on the progress of that project; I’d love to see it and hear how it works out.” If you need to remove yourself from an unpleasant conversation, end the discussion promptly but leave it open-ended for possible continuation in the future.
Even if you don’t require their immediate assistance, send your new contacts a note to thank them for the interaction and indicate your desire to stay in touch. How do you maintain contact? Examine your notes to recall what was essential to them. Take the initiative and utilize social media to connect with individuals you’ve met. LinkedIn is the most widely used media for this purpose, and it may serve as your virtual business card. Alternatively, send them a personal email.
Consider the Wizard of Oz when networking. You must summon your courage like a lion, your intellect like a scarecrow, and your heart like a tin man. Allow yourself to practice and open up to conversations. Prepare to meet new people and adopt a positive attitude; you might be amazed at how excellent a networker you can be. It’s not always easy, but it’s doable – and the thrill of accomplishment will be tremendous!