Networking is something that comes naturally to a few people. However, it is a painful struggle for many others. The good news is that networking is a skill that everyone can master. Here are some great tips for becoming a master networker:
1. Know yourself
Before you go out to network with others, you should first have a good understanding of who you are and what your core beliefs are. What is your vision? What is your mission? What are your values? You need to have answers to all these questions. This will make it easier for you to attract and have conversations with likeminded people.
2. Initiate meaningful introductions
Effective networking is not just about exchanging business cards. You need to master the art of initiating meaningful introductions which lead to long-term relationships and business openings. Besides asking people questions about their business, find out who they really are and what drives them. This allows you to make a connection on a professional as well as a personal level.
3. Listen with genuine interest
One of the best ways of making a good first impression on someone is by giving them undivided attention. Therefore, regardless of whom you meet, be sure to listen attentively when they are speaking to you. Look at them in the eye and make gestures to show that you are attentive. Don’t forget to ask smart questions in the process. Chances are that they will want to meet you again and talk some more.
4. Offer to help
When networking with others, don’t just think of what they can do for you. Instead, find out how you can add value to them. When interacting with others who are more established than we are, it’s easy to imagine that we have nothing to offer. However, you should never underrate yourself. Be confident enough to ask how you can help. This allows you to learn more about the other person and build a strong relationship based on loyalty and trust. When the other person sees your sincerity, they are likely to return the favor later.
5. Focus on quality, not quantity
For many people, networking is attending tradeshows, conferences or industry events and dishing out as many business cards or fliers as possible. However, this can turn out to be a complete waste of time and money. Effective networking is not about quantity, but quality. It involves identifying and meeting the right person who can meet your needs. Therefore, you will need to carry out some research first before attending such events. This will ensure that your networking efforts are more targeted.
6. Show your appreciation
After networking with someone, you need to find a way of showing your appreciation for their time, criticism, praise or counsel. You could do this by sending a handwritten note, an email, a thank you card, even a text message. In a few words, tell the recipient exactly what you are appreciating them for. This will make them feel appreciated, and it will enhance the chances of a future meeting.
The tips above will help you build meaningful relationships and open business opportunities. What other tips have worked for you in networking? Please share with us below.