Do you hate networking as much as I do? Truly as often as I do it, I find nothing more intimidating than walking into a room full of strangers ready to network. Yet it really is one of the most powerful business tools to master.
Read on for 7 Networking tips to help you be effective with this awesome tool.
My very first tip is to smile, even though you probably don’t want to. Sure it’s uncomfortable, most of us are not natural networkers and a room full of people you don’t know is daunting, but slap a smile on your dial, and let everyone know that you are approachable.
- Make Eye Contact
Again when we are feeling nervous, it can be difficult for us to make and maintain eye contact, however, eye contact makes others feel that you are listening. Eye contact allows the person you are meeting to see that you are interested in who they are. Push through your uncomfortable feelings and look your new contact in the eye.
- Actively Listen
Active listening demonstrates to the people you are meeting, that you are genuinely interested in who they are and what they do. A great way to demonstrate active listening is to repeat back part of the conversation. For example, “Sam, you said you manage a real estate agency, can you tell me a little more about that”?
Utilise your body language to show your interest, nod your head, keep your arms uncrossed and open. All of these skills indicate that you are listening and interested.
- Be Yourself, Make A Connection
The purpose of networking is to make connections that may be able to help you in your business. The best way to do this is by being yourself. Try to relax, be confident in who you are, what you do, and let your personality shine. We all like to work with people that we get along with, sharing your personality will help you make real connections with the people you meet.
- Have An Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a concise way to introduce your business. For example, if I were meeting someone for the first time at a networking event, I would introduce myself in the following way,
“Hi I’m Nicole, I work in the trades. I have a business called Tradies in Business, we are in the business of preventing trade business fails”.
Nine times out of ten, I’ll be asked how I do that, and a conversation follows. Be sure you have a short but powerful way to introduce yourself and your business, that encourages follow up questions.
- Have A Set Of Pre-prepared Questions
I find small talk difficult, so I have a handy list of pre-prepared questions I can ask if I feel that the conversation is beginning to stall. Have yourself 3-4 questions you can ask to get yourself out of a conversation gap, without the awkward silence.
I use questions like, “Where did you grow up?”, “Is being a Builder what you always wanted to do”? “Is this what you have always done”?
- Learn How You Can Help
No one likes being sold to, however, we love when someone can help us solve a problem we are having. The idea of these early networking opportunities, it to find out how you can help solve a problem for the person you meet. Rather than telling someone who you are and what you do, find out about them, and then let them know how you can help. Even ask the direct question, “Tom, how can I help you get to your goal of being the best Builder in Sydney”?
If you remember the golden rule of not selling yourself or hiding in the corner, networking can be a great way to meet new people who just might be helpful for your business.