The word ‘networking’ immediately may have you thinking of an awkward happy hour or post-conference expo floor, where people are blindly walking up to you, asking for your card and rushing off to find their next victim. And if you’re an introvert, the thought of networking can be even more overwhelming. That is the networking scenario of previous times.
Hint: networking is not always about who can collect the most business cards…
To effectively network in today’s fast-paced society, it’s important to slow things down. Making a small number of quality connections (and potential business leads) is much more effective than meeting dozens of people that you never really had a chance to learn about or connect with on a more personal type of level. Regardless of whether you’re comfortable meeting new people and interacting in a crowd of new faces, the following tips will help you to remain cool, calm and collected in any type of networking situation.
Take your time (and stop selling)
Networking is not a race to see who can collect the most business cards and leads. It’s about making connections with others—regardless of whether or not it leads to business for you. Try to learn about the person you’re interacting with—do you have any mutual connections? How can you help them (9 times out 10, this does not mean help by trying to sell them your product or service). Sharing information and offering advice will help you to make a stronger connection—it will help build trust and can be a bridge to a potential future business relationship.
It’s not about the numbers
It takes time to really get to know someone. In networking situations, try to focus on getting to know just a few people, rather than working the entire room and bouncing from group to group. Not only will people better remember you (and vice versa), you will begin to form a more meaningful connection.
After the initial networking event, contact the several people who you thought you connected with—and contact them within a day or two. You may want to send a LinkedIn request, an email or perhaps even give them a call. Ask them for a follow up meeting (coffee, etc.) where you can spend more time getting to know them. The ultimate goal is to make a business connection, and taking the time to follow up with someone shows your dedication to fostering the new relationship. When making choices about doing business with someone, dedication and personal customer service is an important element.
What are your tips for effective networking? Do you agree with the ‘less is more’ theory of quality connections (over quantity)?
To read more about the new networking model and effective ways to connect with people you meet at an event, please visit the following:
Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!