6 Tips To Use Immediately
Last week I launched back into networking with six different events and meetings. Considering that I had done almost none throughout the entire summer, this was quite the plunge.
When I first started attending networking events, I remember being wildly nervous. The idea of walking into a room filled with strangers and talking about myself and business seemed like a clever torture device. But I’m also someone who enjoys a challenge, so I gave it a try armed with these words of wisdom from Ken Bogard, “You’re not going to be good at it right away. You have to take the step first, then the confidence follows. It goes on and on like that, step then confidence, step then confidence.”
As it turns out, he was right! Event after event got easier as I understood the rhythm and became familiar with more people. That was over four years ago. Here’s what I’ve learned since that’s helped me network better:
- Take The First Step
Until you step foot into the room, you’ll never truly know what it feels like to meet new people and find common ground. Do what you need to do to be prepared, like memorizing a sales pitch, practicing your hand shake, and printing business cards, but then go do it! There is no greater teacher than experience.
- Find An Ally
If you’re really unsure what to do, find someone running the event or handing out name tags and simply let them know it’s your first time. They’ll help you ease in by giving you the layout of the event. Ask them to introduce you to someone and tell that person it’s your first time too. We all remember the nerves you’re experiencing.
- Ask More Questions
“Be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested.” – Dale Carnegie. This is my go to and it’s two-fold. Asking someone questions keeps the conversation going and helps you to get to know them better.
- Be Yourself, Be Honest
Before all else, please simply be yourself. Navigating a new space is tough enough without also trying to be a fake version of yourself. It will also start off your new connections on the right foot when they know the real you and where you stand.
- Listen Well, Be Open
This ties into #3 when you’re asking questions. If you’re listening without reservation, you’ll likely make a new friend and find areas where you can help them. For a moment, put aside your agenda and lean into what the other person is saying. The conversation will go much deeper and likely be more productive.
- Do The Follow Up
This is the real secret to being a master at networking. Very few people set up individual meetings after a networking event, but this is where relationships really grow. This will put you in the top percent to be remembered, recognized, and top of mind when there’s a problem your business can solve. Once you get to that meeting, simply repeat numbers 3 through 6 on repeat.
Above all else, remember this: networking is simply two people having a conversation. If a business relationship comes of it, that’s great. But really connecting with the person across from you is where it starts. Enjoy the process of getting to know another human being and the rest comes easy.