The term networking is definitely not new to the business world. Most professionals will tell how networking and creating connections with important people is a skill everyone in the industry needs to have. They push so hard for it because they know the importance it contains.
However, when it comes to networking, most people see people in business suits walking around an event and trying to chat up as many people as they can. The reality is that just exchanging business cards and shaking hands don’t make an opportunity fall into your lap.
That way, the contact is easily forgotten.
In order to make the most of the people you spend time meeting, you have to master networking skills. Here we’ve presented some of the best practices for networking effectively.
The first and most important networking practice is to be a listener. Even though it is crucial, not many people are.
By being present in the moment and actually paying attention to what the other has to say, you will realize how much people are willing to divulge. Most people hold back because they assume you’re not interested.
When you show them you’re genuinely interested, they will be willing to share what they know. You’ll surprise yourself by learning some things that you didn’t know before. Again listen genuinely to your interest and appreciation.
Referrals and introductions led by others do work. However, it all comes down to you taking control of the situation and making the first step on your own. You just have to gather the courage you have and make the first move.
When doing so, tell your story. Like you, others are there to get to know each other. By telling your story, you have a chance to stand out in a crowd that is mainly focusing on making transactions and not connections.
Making a few really good connections is much better than making a hundred bad ones. An extensive professional network looks good on paper, but how many will be willing to help you?
The chances of them providing you with what you need are quite slim.
To avoid being a business card collector, focus on making friends. This way, they will feel more compelled to help you when you need it. The same goes for you. And if they aren’t able to help you, it won’t matter. They will remain your friend.
By making friends, it certainly doesn’t mean becoming a social climber who makes superficial friendships. Be genuine and authentic. This will add much more value to your network.
Be yourself. Ask open-ended questions that show you are interested in what they have to say. Let them talk and commentate to show you’re listening.
When you talk, avoid the hard sell as it can put people off. Instead, share your passions and something that is meaningful to you. This way the conversation will be easier to navigate than trying to make small talk.
Forgetting people you’ve met once is very easy, especially in big corporate events. If you’ve made a connection, remember to exchange contact information and then follow up.
This is important, especially if you’ve made a commitment such as sharing an article, a website link, event details, etc. If there are not commitments to keep up with, just checking in is also good networking practice.
In the end, treating people with interest, shedding superficial behavior, and being genuine in your networking practices is key to making long-term connections.