Whether you’re running a business or trying to work your way up the corporate ladder, networking is something you’re likely going to have to engage with at some point in your career. Networking helps us meet other likeminded individuals that can help us strengthen our businesses and careers as well as learn more about success and failure. Of course, networking isn’t always easy. Most people aren’t fond of walking into a room and introducing themselves to a bunch of people they’ve never met, especially if they’re all intelligent and skilled business professionals. If you’re someone who struggles with networking or are going to your first networking event, here are a few tips to make things a little easier.
While you might have the urge to be as professional as possible, it’s important that you show potential customers and business partners the human side of you. If you be yourself, it’s more likely that a person will enjoy your company and then want to work with you. Of course, that isn’t to say you can’t talk about your career or business – sometimes people will decide to ask you about it and it’s perfectly acceptable to have that conversation. You just want to be sure you don’t come off too strong and that it isn’t all business, otherwise they may think you’re just trying to get a new customer.
Don’t Have A One Way Conversation
One of the most important aspects of networking is actually having a conversation – that means letting the other person talk while you listen intently, and then responding properly. While you may feel the urge to talk their ear off about you and your business, it’s important that conversations aren’t one way otherwise they may lose interest in you quickly. It’s also important that you don’t let them be the only one talking. Conversational skills are extremely important when it comes to networking, and if you’re shy then you won’t stand out.
If you feel that you’ve had a good time networking with someone, it’s important that the relationship doesn’t end when the conversation does. Be sure to ask them for their contact info. If they give it to you, it likely means that they also enjoyed your time together and chances are they’d be willing to get together again, which could lead to potential partnerships down the line. Everyone likes to connect differently, so make sure you’re available in various forms – phone numbers, emails, LinkedIn pages, Twitter – it’ll be different for everyone. Once you have this information, be sure to reach out the next time there’s a similar event to let them know that you’ll be there and that you should connect.