Every person you meet has the potential to have a tremendous impact on your social network. You never know where your next business lead or job offer will come from. But networking isn’t a numbers game it’s about building meaningful, lasting relationships.
In today’s mobile-centric world, the people skills involved in networking seems to have taken somewhat of a backseat. It’s easier for us to sit behind our smart devices than it is to put ourselves in a situation where we have to physically interact with others. Despite the numerous social media sites that strive to form connections, the reality is that nothing can truly replace face-to-face communication.
Like it or not, networking is still a very tactical and necessary approach to gain awareness for your personal brand and even your company. So let’s log-off the social networks for the time being to remind ourselves on the successful ways to network. Below are 5 tips for networking your way to success:
1. Be yourself: Now this may seem somewhat elementary, but it’s not uncommon for people to put on their, “I really want to impress you” face at networking functions. The truth is that people see right through this approach. Instead, just be genuine and real. That basis for any good relationship is liking an individual for who they really are.
2. Practice: As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Now I am not saying that you should have a fully rehearsed speech prepared, but you should at least have your key talking points in mind. It also never hurts to have your elevator pitch ready, but don’t be afraid to engage in small talk. You never know where you will find common ground with someone.
3. Make an effort to meet new people: It’s easy to walk into a room and search for familiar faces, but with each new face that you meet lies a new potential business opportunity. To make it easier on yourself, come prepared with one liners to initiate the conversation, such as “What did you think of the seminar?” or “Is this your first time at one of these events?” Even standing in line at the food table presents the perfect opportunity to strike up conversation.
4. It’s a give and take: When interacting with someone, be careful not to make it a one-sided conversation. It’s important to share information about yourself with the person you are speaking with, but also make sure to inquire about them. Open ended questions are always a good tactic to use to help keep the conversation going. For instance, ask the person, “What’s your favorite part of your job?”
5. Follow up: Now this is where our smart devices and social media come into play. After an event, wait a few days and then start connecting with individuals on LinkedIn, Twitter, even with the old fashion email. Be careful not to overdo it and spam every person you shook hands with. Rather be strategic and outline your goal for the follow-up and how you can achieve it.