7 Networking Tips To Help You Build Successful Relationships
Networking goes hand in hand with operating a successful business. Many of us, however, seriously dread walking into a crowded room of strangers and introducing ourselves. These types of events are important though and if you know you have to do them, they work better if you approach them with a positive attitude.
Here are a few tips to help you:
1. Don’t be late
I know it’s tempting to show up at the very last minute and sneak in the back of the room, but that won’t get the job done. Showing up early, on the other hand, will give you a good start. You’ll find when you do, that the people are quieter and calmer than once the event is in full swing. People haven’t broken off into groups yet, so it’s much easier to find people to talk to. If you’re a bit of an introvert, it’s easy to become a wall flower at these events if you’re not careful. Showing up early reduces the stress, and helps you make a few valuable connections.
2. Ask simple questions
If you just wait around the edge of the room for people to come talk to you, they may not. You’ll look unapproachable or like you don’t want to talk to anyone. Instead, get conversations started with simple questions. Go up to an individual or group of people and simply ask, “May I join you?” They’re there to meet new people too, so they’ll be happy to make you a part of their group. Ask things like, “What brings you to this event?” These are simple questions that break the ice and get a conversation started. You’ll find that once you do this, conversations will be easy.
Remember the second part of conversation, however…is listening. If you are more of an introvert, you’re probably a good listener. Listen closely to their replies. Listening is a very good way to get to know new people, and pick up on some key ideas you may want to use in your business.
3. Check the sales pitch at the door
Networking isn’t about sales, it’s about building relationships. That’s why you should leave your sales pitch at home or check it with your coat at the door. Nothing will turn people off more than trying to hard sell within the first few minutes of meeting someone. When you begin your conversation, keep it light, fun, and informal. The purpose is to just get conversations started in a friendly manner. If people enjoy your company, they’re more apt to want to do business or partner with you, so be enjoyable, not overbearing.
Eventually, the conversation may come around to business. If a potential customer or business associate asks you about one of your products or a service you provide, just have an easy description prepared of your company. To do this, create a mental list of recent achievements. This might be a new client you’ve obtained or an awesome new project you’ve just finished. If you have them ready, you can easily pull them out during a conversation if asked.
4. Be enthusiastic
It’s easy to be enthusiastic if you share your passion. People can’t help but get excited when they hear how excited you are about your products or services. There’s bound to be a good story about why you felt passionate about crating your company. Share it with people. You’ll find the excitement you feel can often be contagious. You share your passion, and others want to share theirs. This gives everyone involved excellent, memorable conversations and helps you to have a really great time.
5. Keep a smile on your face
People want to talk to friendly people, and a smile gives others the impression that you’re that kind of person. Smiling is so simple, but people usually overlook its importance. Even if you seriously DON’T want to be there, you’ll find smiling will put you in a better frame of mind. Get rid of the negative attitude, and replace it with a simple smile, and you’ll begin to feel the difference right away. Begin smiling before you enter the room, and you’ll make immediate impressions that can go a long way.
6. Don’t dominate the conversation
Often, especially when we’re nervous, we tend to talk too much. If you don’t want to be there, you’re introverted, and conversations are difficult for you, it’s easy to overcompensate by dominating conversations. Remember, being a good networker is about relationships. One sure way to be successful at networking is to make others feel special. To do this, you want to do things like, maintain eye contact, use the person’s name in conversation, genuinely listen to what they have to say, and bring up easy topics of discussion. Conversation is more than talking, so be a good conversationalist…not just a big talker. Chances are, that person doesn’t want to be there either. Putting them at ease will help put you at ease.
7. Don’t forget follow-ups
Remember that networking is where the conversation begins. It isn’t where it ends. Sometimes you meet someone, have a great conversation with them, and never hear from them again. If you meet someone and you really hit it off, be sure to ask them how to stay in touch with them. Don’t leave without getting their phone, email address, or social networks you can contact them through. Don’t wait until you need that person. Get in touch with them within 48 hours. Make reference to something you discussed at the event so they will remember you, and let them know you’re interested.
Networking can be one of the most important aspects of your business. Building relationships plays a crucial part in the success of any business. Approach networking with a positive attitude, a smile, and the desire to build those relationships, and they will happen. You’ll get more out of the experience than you imagined.