How to Be an Expert at Networking
How to Be an Expert at Networking
Networking is a key tool to help you expand your business, no matter what industry. It can provide you with countless opportunities and help you build valuable connections both within and outside of your industry. But how should you make the most of networking opportunities? Being an expert at networking takes some time to get a hang of.
Many people often leave a networking event disappointed if they have not fulfilled their goal. If you are often finding yourself feeling that way, you may be going in with the wrong kind of goals. For example, you should not be going into networking events with an agenda of pure personal gain. Rather you should be going in with an open attitude that focuses on forming real relationships with real people. In fact, having an urge to help people will set you off on the right footing to be an expert networker! So, how do you do it?
- Create genuine connections
Go into networking events with the intention of building genuine connections with people. Let people know that you have a sincere interest in them and are not just looking for personal gain. Genuinely asking interesting questions and getting to know the other person is key. Find ways to engage with people and be curious about them. Don’t just talk about yourself or your business the whole event.
- Prepare some questions in advance
Think of conversation starters and questions in advance to help you appear effortless when starting conversations. Researching the other attendees beforehand to prepare relevant questions about them can help you start valuable discussions with them. Hot tip: ask more questions than you answer! People like to talk about themselves so ask interesting questions that get the conversation flowing and actively listen to what people are saying.
- Don’t just try to sell
Don’t have a fixed personal agenda before you go into a networking event. Be enthusiastic when talking about what you do, but instead of just trying to sell your business, try talking about it in a casual way. Don’t undersell it, but don’t try to solely sell it. Use networking as an opportunity to simply build relationships that may potentially end up providing mutual benefits in the future. Pay attention to people around you and hold mutually interesting conversations.
- Help your network
Although networking often provides the opportunity for mutual benefit, you should be looking to help the people in your network without expecting something in return. Be on the lookout for opportunities to connect people together. If you realise two people might be able to help each other, introduce them. If you are aware of an upcoming opportunity that may be perfect for someone, let them know. Remember, networking is not just about personal gain. Don’t expect people in your network to help you if you are not willing to help them out.
- Stay in touch
Following up with new contacts is vital. There is no point in going to networking events to collect an array of business cards only to leave them laying on your desk once you get home. Find a reason to follow up. Follow through with any promises you make, like promising to call or send a message, making introductions or providing information. Stay in touch with the past contacts that you create, as that connection can be handy in the future. Keep tabs on them and congratulate them on their success. A good idea is to share content that you think they may find interesting, now and again.
- Utilise social media
Ensure your online profile is up to date so that people can find you after meeting. In 2020, networking is a combination of in-person and online interactions, so make sure that you use them to your advantage. Social media is an excellent way to stay in touch with your network over time. LinkedIn is the best way to communicate with professional contacts, and give the opportunity to interact with other connections. Use it to communicate with your network, share relevant content, and market yourself and your business.
- Attend a range of different events
Switch up the kind of events you attend by attending events outside of what you would normally consider. Different types of events such as career fairs, professional conferences, work networking events can provide different kinds of opportunities. Connecting with people outside of your industry can be surprisingly rewarding. Networking outside of your industry can provide you with alternate perspectives that may help you with your business or inspire new ideas. You never know who you might meet by just shaking up your events calendar a little bit.
True networking is about communicating your passion and forming relationships with professionals both in and outside of your industry. Successful networkers build real connections with people and don’t just dwell on personal gain. Keep in mind that expert networking is more about giving than receiving!