5 tips to improve your networking
Networking is the currency of the future. Your ability to network strategically and efficiently has a big impact on your success with both company-oriented goals (such as client satisfaction, recruitment and sales), while it can add enormous value to your personal brand. However, building collaborative, long-term relations that will leave your better off is not easy. In this post, I will take you through 5 points to consider when participating in network events.
Although online networking on LinkedIn is a strong force when it comes to developing new business opportunities and positioning yourself as a thought leader, we cannot underestimate the power of in-person dialogue. We are social creatures after all.
Consider these 5 tips, when engaging in network events.
1. Be selective in choosing events
As a starting point, you should make sure to attend the right events. Going to events with likeminded people will increase your chances of getting something valuable out of attending. Narrow down your field and be selective in choosing what to attend. For me, working with marketing, it usually morning seminars, workshops, conferences or other events related to marketing/branding, digital strategy, advertising innovation, etc.
2. Redefine your mindset
Your success rate at network events very much depends on your mindset. Instead of thinking about how many leads you can get out of it, approach it with a mindset of establishing true relationships. Great networking is all about helping each other, so how can you truly help other people? With a sharpened focus on selflessness, you will become more effective in networking.
You can also play matchmaker. Think about who you might introduce the person to in order to create value. Are there some obvious connections to be made? One thing is that people will feel appreciative that you have bettered their life, but another is that they will likely be more compelled to help you out in the future.
3. Make yourself approachable
Being an introvert myself, approaching other people can be a bit daunting. However, practice makes perfect, and you will learn a lot from getting outside your comfort zone. A great tip is to make it easier for people to approach you. It could be that you are wearing something interesting that represents your company or maybe just a special T-shirt. The important thing is to make it easy for people to come up to you, and your appearance – especially if it makes people think – can be a good icebreaker.
Consider your body language
This goes for your body language too. Standing with your arms across the chest, for instance, symbolizes an undesirable closedness that people will pick up immediately. In a natural position your arms should be relaxed and along your sides with a bit of bend in the elbow joint, and with your palms facing outwards towards people. It maybe sounds odd, but this kind of non-verbal communication actually account for 55% of what your peers pick up. This is also why eye contact is so important because it sends a signal that you are open to dialogue.
When engaging in dialogue, your shoulders should be back, with the chest forward and your head held high. This will give you a confident starting point and open up your body, sending unconscious signals to your receiver that you are open, reliable and believe in what you are saying, which will ultimately affect the reception of your message and your appeal as a speaker.
4. Ask questions and listen
When conversation starts, rather than having a formal and stiff elevator pitch at the ready, try to engage in dialogue with a question such as:
So, what brings you here?
What do you hope to get out of this?
What are you working on at the moment?
You want to get people to talk about what they really want, so a great rule of thumb is to ask more questions than you receive. Obviously, it should be a natural conversation, not a monologue, but you usually learn more from listening to other people, rather than talking yourself. Here introverts usually have a natural advantage (so keep this in mind, extroverts): Sit back, ask questions and listen.
5. Don't attend presentations only
In continuation of the last points, you won't get a lot of time to actually network with people if you only attend presentations. I'm not saying that you should quit them altogether, but if you go to conferences with a lot of talks, be careful not to let it dominate the time you spend there. Invest in finding time for meeting new people. Checking out different booths, engaging and messing around is where you actually connect with people. The setting is a bit looser and usually revolves around the subject of the booth, which automatically makes it easier for you to approach people.
I hope you found these 5 tips useful and that you will implement them the next time you go networking. If you want to read more related content, check out these posts: