Opportunities come from places that you least expect them. Professional relationships are one of the many elements that influence how you come across these opportunities. There are many different tips out there that explain how to maintain these relationships, but we know networking is a definite path that can lead you to creating those great connections. Several people have mixed feelings about networking, but fear not! Networking doesn't have to be as scary as you might make it out to be.
Today we will provide you with 5 unique networking tips that can take your connections to the next level.
Never miss an opportunity
I was interviewing a colleague who is passionate about networking and she explained that sometimes it is easy to make quick judgments about people (ie: door-to-door salesman) and determine that they are not worth getting to know. She claims this is a huge mistake.
Don't miss an opportunity to connect! Take the time to talk to different people, find out what is going on in their lives and see if you can help them in any way. A big part of networking is actually supporting the business owners that you know by referring them to other business owners - instead of just trying to sell yourself. You never know who the person might know or what kind of help they may need.
Listen and learn
With so many creative and interesting people in the world doing incredible things, there is so much to learn! When at a networking event, practice listening more and talking less. Ask engaging questions about what the person does and why they are passionate about their business. Sincerely listen to their answers and think about how you could help them or how they could help you with their services. While we always feel the pressure to talk about ourselves, actively listening will actually be more profitable. Go into these events with ears open; you never know what interesting information you can discover!
Go to multiple meetings, always meet new people
It's easy to get in a rut with networking if you only interact with one or two groups. While it is important to build strong relationships with people by seeing them regularly, it is just as important to consistently meet new people. You can keep your networking skills sharp by switching up the groups you go with every once in awhile.
Try resisting the urge to sit by and talk with the people you already know. The more people you meet, the greater chance you will have for meeting your next best client or business partner. Don't worry, most everyone feels nervous when trying to meet new people, so you are not alone! Just relax, be confident, and be yourself!
Arrive early, leave late
The biggest mistake you can make is showing up late and leaving as soon as the event is over. Arriving early to an event allows you to be the person guests approach and introduce themselves to. Thus, sparing you from the awkwardness of trying to butt into a conversation. Staying late allows you to develop the contacts you made or to meet more people.
Don't forget to take the opportunity to greet the facilitator or speaker and thank them for the session. If you don't know them, get to know them! Try to clear your schedule before and after the meeting in case the opportunity arises that you want to dig deeper into a discussion with a new connection. Keeping all of these things in mind before heading out to the event will make the event worth your while.
After the event, don't give in to the temptation of throwing all the business cards you received into the big pile on your desk. Sort through the cards, remember what you talked about and send a short and sweet email within a few days of the event. The gesture of doing a simple follow up can go a long way. If you talked about setting up a meeting to further discuss business opportunities, suggest a few dates to get the ball rolling. Highlight a few of the things that you enjoyed learning about their business and leave the door open for connecting further. If you have any resources or interesting articles you think would be relevant to them, feel free to include that as well. Refrain from pitching your business to them - unless they specifically asked for additional information. This will work out better for you in the long run.
What kinds of things do you do to psych yourself up before an event? What is your favorite networking tip? Share it on our Facebook page! We'd love to a part of your network!