Sweaty palms. Awkward silences. Desperately trying to remember someone's name.
These are the thoughts that might pop into your head when you think of networking events, but it doesn't have to be that way. Sure, networking events are a great time to really expand your network and meet new people; but the key to successful networking is embedding it into your everyday life.
There isn't one secret formula that will magically make you be the perfect networker, but there are a few simple tips you can use. Networking isn't about a one-time introduction, it's about the relationships you maintain and how you make others feel. Don't just try to check off a list of networking steps, integrate a networking mindset into your daily life.
It's easy to sit around and wait for someone else to initiate
something, but that might not ever happen. Don't be scared to start conversations, share an idea, call together a meeting, or send a quick e-mail to a new connection. It may seem daunting at first, but it's only the first step to get the ball rolling and it could lead to something great.
It's easier for people to relate to others that are authentic and true to who they are. It's ok to admit if you're unsure about something, nobody likes a know-it-all. Everyone is human and can't be perfect at everything. When it comes to providing advice, feedback, or your opinion on something that you don't think is the greatest, it's still best to be honest. Be gentle with your wording, but providing a truthful answer will hopefully lead to a better end result and will prevent tension from building up and exploding at a later time.
It seems so intuitive, but people are often swept up in their own thoughts and forget to listen. Listening validates the value
of others and shows respect. Asking thoughtful questions shows sincerity and builds trust because it actively shows an interest in someone's opinions and thoughts. When you show a genuine interest in someone else, they'll be more inclined to also show a genuine interest
back in you.
Give and Expect Nothing
In order to sustain good personal and business relationships, both parties must feel like they are benefitting. For you, the benefit may be a great connection and someone you can count on in the future. For them, maybe you're able to use your business expertise to provide some advice for their work. Successful networkers
spend their time helping other people. As Maya Angelou said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Show your connections how much you value them and they'll be sure to view your relationship in a positive light.
Find Common Ground
Establishing common ground can help both parties relate to each other and feel more connected. When you feel more at ease with someone, you're more likely to freely express your feelings and ideas, which could lead to a great discussion. Finding something that you have in common doesn't have to be work related, it could be growing up in the same area, cheering for the same sports team, shopping at the same mall, or working out at the same gym.
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