Whether you enjoy it or not, networking is an invaluable tool that can help to further your career, gain new clients, and develop great business opportunities. However, you need to go about it in the right way. Otherwise, it may not yield the same positive results. Whether you are an experienced networker or would just like a few refresher tips on how to network, this article should provide something that proves useful to you.
Utilize Social Media
We live in a world in which the internet is dominant and where social media is an invaluable place to further your career opportunities. This is even more the case during the current coronavirus pandemic, in which many face-to-face networking events have had to be cancelled or postponed. Even when they do occur, you often find out about them first on social media. Therefore, it is especially important that you work hard on your profiles and search for new contacts. You also need to maintain your existing contacts. LinkedIn is obviously the place that many professionally gravitate towards, but always stay on the lookout for new platforms as they could serve you well.
Target Your Networking Event
All networking events are different, so go to one where you have the most chance of meeting useful contacts. Also, target the event in terms of how comfortable you feel. If you are meeting everyone for the first time, a casual drinks event is a good starting point. However, if you are deeper into the networking sphere, you may feel more comfortable going to a sit-down dinner. As a side note, you should always make sure you dress appropriately as this can have a big impact on your confidence
Have Your Goals in Mind
Before you attend a networking event, whether this is online or in the real world, you should have a clear idea of what you are aiming to achieve from it. Otherwise, you are likely to turn up without a strategy and are more likely to walk away empty-handed.
For example, are you looking to gain more clients or simply make new connections? Is there a specific company that you would like to get an ‘in’ with? Perhaps you are a financial professional looking for a connection with a top law firm like Brown & Crouppen. By planning out your goals, you will be able to assess whether or not you have enjoyed a successful networking event. If not, you can at least analyze what went wrong so you know not to make the same mistakes again next time.
Don’t Spend All Your Time with a Single Person
While it is great to make a connection with someone, most people don’t attend networking events to speak to a single person. Therefore, you need to make a habit of mingling and speaking to as many people as possible. Even if you only went to meet one or two specific people, you don’t want to close your doors on the rest. You never know how useful they may be to you and what sort of opportunities will arise in the future as a result.
Have Your Sales Pitch Prepared
At networking events, everyone is selling something, so you need to be prepared to push your product better than everyone else — even if your product is you. Your sales pitch needs to be short, succinct, and to the point. After all, everyone else at the event has a similar idea to you and they will want to meet a few different people. Run through your pitch a few times with someone you trust. Remember, practice makes perfect. The more networking events you attend, the more likely it is that you are going to deliver a clear and incisive pitch.
Let Other People Speak
While you need to have a confident pitch, you don’t want to spend the whole time talking. Why? There are a couple of problems with this approach. The first is that you will not have the opportunity to hear from the other person to find out what they are selling and how their skills or products could benefit your organization. Also, if you are one of those people who speaks all the time and dominates the conversation, the other person won’t be able to get a word in edgeways, which doesn’t tend to be popular for anyone!
Remember to Exchange Contact Details
There is no point in spending all that time speaking to someone only for them never to contact you again. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have a stack of business cards ready to hand out. If you have any other little giveaways that help you to stand out from the crowd, this can also prove to be useful. Make sure that all your contact information is clear and accurate. You don’t want to be going around handing out a business card with your old email address or phone number on it!
Follow Up After the Event
Remember, the networking event itself is only half of the job. You then need to be prepared to do some follow-up afterwards. The most traditional way of going about it these days is by connecting via email, but you could also look into your social media options. If you would prefer a more direct means of communication, you could always give them a call. Try to personalize your correspondence rather than sending out something too generic. This way, the other person will know that you have really made an effort for them and that you valued their time.
Hopefully, the advice listed in this article has given you something to think about and you will feel more confident going into your next networking event. There is no doubt that it can be a challenging skill to master, but it is also one that is worth putting in the time and effort over. If you do, you are likely to see all sorts of positive results in your career and/or business.