Networking is a crucial part of being successful in business. No one can grow a company or cause in isolation, so it’s important to connect, build, and nurture relationships that provide support and direction.
Networking events or sessions come natural to some, but for many the thought of speaking with somebody you don’t know is a dreadfully uncomfortable and difficult experience.
So for an endeavor that can be so rewarding to a business, how do those out of their comfort zone learn how ‘work’ a room and network like a pro? We’ve put together our five top quick tips to help guide your way to feeling more comfortable while connecting.
1. Start with a Smile.
No one wants to meet a grumpy and negative person. Smiling will put you at ease and will also convey a more inviting and warm tone. If you look like you’re enthusiastic and enjoying yourself, you’ll come across more comfortable and confident.
2. Be sincerely interested.
Networking is about connecting with people. Start off with easy questions and be prepared to listen. The immediate attention will bring authenticity to the conversation.
3. Don’t monopolise the conversation with your pitch.
It’s important to build rapport with the person with whom you’re connecting. Jumping right in with your sales pitch might be a bit overbearing. People do business with those they like and enjoy. Keep the conversation light at the start and have your elevator pitch ready when the timing is right.
4. Know when and how to move on.
Remember you’re at a networking event to meet and help others as well as finding opportunity for yourself and/or business. If you’re speaking with someone and finding it difficult to end the conversation, just be polite and say something like, “Great to meet you, but I better meet a few other people here before the evening ends.”
5. Remember to follow-up.
Most conversations will turn toward finding out how each of you can help the other. If there’s a sincere opportunity and you’ve mentioned you might be able to help or make further introductions. Do so. Remember who you’ve met and make sure you’ve got their details. Jot down some notes on your follow-up actions and ensure you follow-up as discussed.
There’s no need to feel nervous about attending networking events. Most every attendee is there for the same reason: To find and build upon opportunity...which is all very positive. Of course there are additional ways to add to your overall networking experience and you’ll need to find the style that works well for you; but by starting and practicing a combination of these top tips you’ll be on your way to connecting with confidence.