Whether you’re attending an actual networking event or spontaneously connecting at the coffee shop, it’s vital to know exactly what your strengths, talents and skills are, and why they’ll benefit others. This seems simple, but it can be surprisingly difficult to go in cold during conversations, when someone asks what you do and how you do it. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of rehearsal beforehand, to ensure you’re targeting the right services, at the right people, in a succinct, confident manner.
Networking is all about creating genuine relationships.
2. Network when you don’t have to
You want to build trust, show others you’re a pleasure to be around and create genuine relationships.
This might sound counterintuitive, but it’s much easier to network when you don’t have to. For example, attend a networking event many months before a product launch. Networking is all about relationship building, rather than doing the hard sell within minutes of meeting people. You want to build trust, show others you’re a pleasure to be around and create genuine relationships, so it’s worth investing time into.
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3. Don’t judge a book by its title
It’s a common mistake to presume some people are less valuable than others, in terms of networking worth. You may be chatting to a CEO’s PA, with the intention of meeting the CEO, however the PA is probably going to know more, in terms of information and the people you need to meet in your industry. Look beyond titles, positions and certainly appearances, to find the value in every person you meet, and give them something in return.
4. Introduce your connections to each other
Don’t you just love that person who makes an effort to introduce people to each other, so everyone’s more comfortable? You can be that person and increase your potential to form genuine connections. Many of the people you know could certainly offer value to each other, and you’ll be doing your bit towards creating successful networking communities.
Positive body language is key to successful networking.
5. Always be aware of your body language
Smiling and confident eye contact are a simple, but often overlooked, part of networking. Plus, if you’re feeling nervous about not knowing anyone, it’s pretty hard to walk around smiling. Body language really does make all the difference in forming connections, so practice until it comes naturally. Smile each time you meet someone and when you part company, engage by looking into their eyes for more than a cursory second, don’t fidget and maintain good posture.
When you’re always aware of projecting confident, welcoming and sincere body language, you’re more than halfway there to successful networking.
Nicole Leigh West
Nicole Leigh West is the author of fiction novel, 'The Gypsy Trail' and an internationally recognised travel and lifestyle writer.