Whether you are networking to build your business or to advance your career, meeting other people and bringing them into your circle is essential in today’s business world. It is hard to make it on your own. Building a solid network allows you to be more productive and more prosperous in your career. However there are things to keep in mind.
1. Be Genuine Above all, be who you are. Be genuine. Networking is about building relationships. You can’t build an honest relationship on pretence. When you meet someone in a business, make sure they are meeting you not some image or persona. If you fake it, it will fall apart in time, and you may gain a reputation for being a phoney. Make sure your motives are good and that you aren’t simply trying to get something from the people you’re meeting. Make friends, not resources. Nobody likes to be used.
2. Know Who You Are and What it is You Do Sometimes networking is a bit like speed dating. You only have a short amount a time to present an accurate picture of who you are. Make sure that you have a great elevator pitch in case you don’t have the luxury of fully introducing yourself to someone. An elevator pitch is a quick but reasonably complete statement about yourself that can delivered in about 30 seconds – the rough amount time of an elevator ride. Make sure that includes your name, your title, the name of your business and a brief statement about what you do there. While succinct, the pitch should deliver enough information to be memorable and perhaps to ignite some further interest. Even if you have more time, make sure that you represent yourself fully. Make it your goal to get the same information from anyone with whom you talk.
3. Volunteer The easiest and most natural way to meet people is to be a volunteer at any of the organisations you join. You would almost have to put in an effort not to meet people if you do so. Volunteering does several things. Conference participants view people who volunteer as involved, sincere, and giving. Volunteers are often put in a position where they are forced to interact with the other people at an event. They become associated with the organisation in the attendees’ minds. All of these are helpful for meeting new contacts.
4. Be Approachable There are several factors that come to play in approachability. Make sure that you don’t hide in the corner. Use body language that expresses openness. Be eager to extend your hand when someone offers theirs to shake. Or better yet, offer yours first. Wear name tags when possible. Always have business cards ready to offer. Speak clearly and as articulately as possible. Avoid being negative. Keep solid eye contact. Make sure everything about you says you want to meet people and that you want to establish a relationship with them.
5. Follow-up When you meet someone who is interesting or who you think you might like to know better, make sure to follow-up with a phone call or an email. If someone gives you a referral or recommends you to someone else, acting quickly on the referral shows that you value it. People always appreciate a thank you, and a nice note can help cement a relationship. Forgetting a thank you note can have the opposite effect. Follow up when you network with as much zeal as you would follow up with a customer. Reconnect with people and let them know you care and are grateful that you know them.