One of the most challenging tasks for many of us in the business world is undoubtedly networking. But when it is so integral for career advancement, forming meaningful relationships, and marketing yourself and your business, it’s something that you must learn the ins-and-outs of to help you succeed in your profession and reach your goals. Networking is more than just collecting names and business cards – it’s about making a long-lasting imprint, creating a rapport with other professionals, and expanding your network to open the door to new opportunities and clients. If you find networking events daunting, or you struggle to find ways to make proper conversation or form relationships, here are a few tips to make a real connection when networking to help you excel in your business.
Make eye contact
Body language matters when you’re networking and meeting new people, and making eye contact is more important than many people believe. When you meet a new person, smile and look them in the eye, shake their hand and introduce yourself, and stand with good posture and confidence.
Find common ground
If you want to make a real connection when networking, you need to find common ground. After you’ve introduced yourself, ask the other person to tell you something interesting about themselves or about their job, or try to find a link or interest that you both share. If you’re attending an event and there is a particular person who you want to meet, or if you have a meeting with an individual, do a bit of homework beforehand and research their business and possible talking points. This will make them feel like you’re interested in what they do, and will no doubt leave a lasting and positive impression.
Give before you receive
One of the golden rules when networking is to give before you receive. The biggest turn-off is being overenthusiastic and asking for a favour too soon, or appearing like you’re only forming a relationship to see how you can benefit from the other person. Offer to provide a piece of information, a contact, to forward an interesting and relevant article, or anything else that shows generosity and investment into the relationship, before you begin asking of the other person.
Ultimately, networking is an art and it’s one that you can master over time. Your most powerful connections will likely be made at events, so turn up with a smile on your face and a willingness to meet new people and that will act as your springboard to networking success.