How many times have you been invited to a ‘networking’ event and cringe? I know. I know, I used to as well. My background is Corporate, Human Resources to be exact - networking and recruiting became my second name! My first few events were terrible. Nervous, anxious, and fumbled over my words.
But then, something really awesome happened - a connection panned out and then a recruiter came through for me. It was like, OK this isn’t so hard. I just need to keep my confidence up and stay focused on my purpose for being at an event. So, I decided to take each event as an opportunity to better my skill. Master my craft and perfect the process.
The tips I am sharing below are what changed my networking game and brought me to network rockstar status. I started implementing these online as well as offline. When I went to launch my business in 2015, I proved again this process works! I launched and within 3 weeks I secured 2 clients.
To make it simple. Networking is about being yourself, building trust, and seeing how your knowledge and expertise can be of support to others.
This was my process. I still use these principles today when I am at an event, doing a training, or on a call with a potential new client. I even used a few of these ideas while interviewing, they worked great! These can be applied to a business online or offline.
Are you ready to become a Networking Pro?!?! Here are my TOP TIPS:
1. Set your intentions for the event or conversation prior to starting. This will help you stay focused and on task when meeting with new contacts. What do you want to get out of the event and your conversations?
2. Ask open-ended questions during your conversations, questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how. The goal is to MEET and LEARN about the person / members of the group.
3. Become the GO-TO person for all new trending things in your industry / field. The more you know, the more people will approach you for information and to learn more about you and your business / company.
4. Make sure you have your “elevator speech” ready and know it like the back of your hand. Be confident. Be assured in your skills and / or products. If you haven't mastered this, make sure you can be concise and direct on 'what it is you do'.
5. Have conversation starters in mind to help break the ice. Referring back to #2 - have questions in mind to ask members as you meet them to learn about who they are and what they do. A compliment is a great way to start the conversation. This is my personal 'go-to'.
6. Don't be a business card spammer! This applies to cold messaging online. Don’t spam. Please, please, please don't throw your business cards at everyone - as soon as you meet them. Wait, talk, and then exchange information - if it's fitting!
7. After the event, phone or email your new contacts and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them. Reignite the conversation. Something to try out: after you get the business card - take a moment to quickly recap your conversation...so the next day when you reach out you can remember the person and possibly something to help them remember you! [this was my BIG game changer]
8. Go to as many networking opportunities as you can! Don't be a wallflower, get out there and mingle! Each event you attend and work, the networking fear will diminish and your confidence will continue to grow. Like they say, practice makes perfect, but in this case - practice leads you to become the expert and 'go-to person' for all NEED TO KNOW questions.
Applying these tips will not only help you build confidence within yourself and your skill set, but it will also give you professional connections to expand your business more OR offer future opportunities. Take baby steps to perfecting your networking skills, take one of these and apply it the next time you find yourself in a networking opportunity.
When you're in business, whether for yourself or another person - networking is the key to all success. Who you know will always work in your favor! Be sure the person KNOWS who you are, your skill set, and hopefully you gave them enough so they can attest to your personality. This is how you know you've reached PRO status!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Jackie Sinclair