There are two types of people in the world: those that love a good icebreaker and those that would rather swallow cough medicine than talk to new people. If you’re part of the latter category, these five strategies will help you meet new people, and network like a natural.
Here’s something I prepared earlier
Preparation is essential to succeeding at most things, and networking is definitely one of them. Knowing who will be at the event and what you specifically want to learn from them will help you stay focused and more likely to develop a meaningful connection. It will also show that you’re organised and committed – people appreciate effort! It’s also useful to have your own ‘elevator pitch’ ready, so you can tell people who you are, what you do for work and what you enjoy doing outside of work to break the ice.
Beyonce said Listen
Listening, rather than simply waiting for your turn to talk, is a significant part of effective networking. Make sure you stop and really focus on what the other person is saying. You’ll give yourself a better chance at absorbing the knowledge, insights and advice they’re there to offer. Actively listening shows the other person you are engaged with what they’re saying – techniques include positive body language (more on that next), paraphrasing what they say, or asking follow-on questions to go deeper into a topic.
Positive body language
Body language is incredibly powerful when it comes to networking, as first impressions can and do last. Be sure to maintain eye contact, smile at the people you’re talking to, and keep a good posture. Your stance should be open and welcoming – avoid blocking people out of your conversation, leaning on things, and juggling too many things in your hands (keep your hands free to shake hands!).
Be genuine. More often than not people sense dishonesty or insincerity from a mile away, so it’s best you stick to the truth and refrain from embellishing your achievements. Try asking the other person questions about what got them to where they are now, what they’ve learnt along the way, and what advice they can give – rather than focusing too much on yourself. It’s all about give and take!
To be continued
In our day and age, everyone’s on the interweb. A good way to build on a connection is to add someone on social media, send them a thank you email or follow up LinkedIn message. This extra effort will reaffirm your commitment, organisation and dedication to building your network. It only takes a minute, and can really make you stand out from the crowd.
Networking is an important part of everyone’s career journey, so it’s important we keep developing these skills. Like anything, practice makes perfect. The more networking events you go to, the more comfortable you will become when talking about your career and asking others about theirs. You never know who you might meet!
Useful networking resources to check out:
Image by Courtney King.