5 Tips for Becoming a Better Networker
Networking is a huge part of being successful in business. With so much competition and the internet making everything so readily available, you really need to find ways to stand out from the crowd. While some of us truly enjoy these interactions and find them effortless, it’s more of a struggle for others. Keep these tips in mind to help get you through your next networking opportunity.
- Keep in mind that every interaction is a chance to network. You don’t have to be at a formal networking event to make connections with like-minded folks. Strike up a conversation at a summer BBQ, in the line at the grocery store, at a party, etc. Having genuine conversations with people where you each share your passions can open up all kinds of doors. Don’t go straight into career discussions in these scenarios, instead try and actually learn a little more about the people you are talking to. This will make you more memorable as a person and not just a business contact.
- Plan ahead for networking events. Choose the right venue and go in with a solid plan. Choose networking opportunities tactfully and don’t force yourself into scenarios you aren’t comfortable in. If the bar scene isn’t for you, don’t attend cocktail networking events. Before you attend the event, consider why you are attending and what you hope to get out of it. Are you looking for a new job? Need to hire contractors? Consider who this kind of event speaks to and if those are the individuals you wish to network with.
- Be memorable. This can be tricky because you don’t want to jump on top of the bar or do cartwheels to get people’s attention. But you can be memorable in more subtle ways as well. Be genuine in all of your conversations, ask deeper questions and a lot of them. This will undoubtedly help people have positive memories about you. Also, hand out your premium business cards after you’ve had a conversation. Include a little note on the back or consider investing in luxury silk business cards that will stand out from the rest of the deck once the event is over.
- Utilize the contacts you already have. If you know someone that has a connection to an individual you hope to speak with, ask if they’d be willing to set up a lunch meeting or pass along your information. In networking, it’s all about who you know, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help. Just remember to always be mindful of what you are asking for and use your discretion.
- Always follow up. The event is over and you’re at home with a pocket full of business cards – what next? You should follow-up soon after while your interaction is still at the top of their mind. Send out a thank you message, set up a coffee date, share that referral you promised, etc. Following through on any promises you made will reiterate your dependability and competence, and who wouldn’t want to work with someone like that?
Be authentic, ask questions, listen and follow up with everyone you meet and are interested in furthering your relationship with. A few simple steps can go a long way in successfully networking with people in your industry.