Learning how to network effectively is one of the most powerful tools an individual can use to advance their personal and professional life. Networking is very important to professionals looking to break into new industries, improve professional connections, land a dream job, or score a promotion.
You must come ready to fully engage in the networking activities, bring lots of business cards, and look professionally chic. When someone asks, “What do you do?” your elevator pitch should be short, sweet, but creatively appealing.
As we all know, face-to-face networking is far different and more difficult than social networking. To help you network like a pro, here are a few tips for you to keep in mind:
1. Commit Yourself to Helping Others.
Come with a positive, can-do, helpful attitude. Don’t think about getting clients, customers, or a new job. The point of networking is not to get more business or to further yourself. It is to increase or enhance your network. One of the natural outcomes to a healthy network is increased business opportunities. So, if you commit yourself to helping others in any way possible – be it a restaurant recommendation, or a tech tip, or a book suggestion – you will be more human and people will want to help you in return.
2. Make An Introduction.
I love introducing people. If you introduce two people and they hit it off, they will always be grateful to you. And people who you have introduced to someone else are more likely to return the favor. This works even with people you just met at an in-person networking event.
3. Connect with People Over their Babies – i.e. kids, spouse, and vision 🙂
You know that saying, “the easiest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? Well, I believe the easiest way to a networking partner’s heart is through their immediate family members or most recent venture. At most networking events, people almost always talk about work-related subjects. But you can really distinguish yourself by talking about a person’s spouse or family, if you get the right opportunity. This is an excellent way for getting to know them a lot better.
4. If You Are Shy or Introverted, Focus on Others.
If you are really shy and don’t like meeting new people, then the best advice I can give you is not talk much at all – ask questions, smile, and listen intently. People love talking about themselves, and if you ask a lot of questions and take a lot of interest in them, you don’t have to be a good conversationalist. Most people will enjoy the opportunity to speak about themselves to a captive audience. And they will enjoy speaking with you.
5. Use the 80/20 Rule for Following Up.
Networking events are great. But don’t spend so much time trying to meet new people and too little time nurturing relationships with people you already know. Use the 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto Principle) to further and develop relationships with your existing network. This in turn will lead to meeting new people because people who you already know are more likely to be a gateway for you to their friends and connections. So be sure to spend time and energy networking with people who are in your network already.
Apply these tips at any one of our upcoming networking events. Happy networking!