We usually prefer to do business with people we know and trust. However, expanding our professional network is also vital as it can open doors to more opportunities. To make networking more effective, we offer some quick and easy tips below:
1. Come early. As the first among the attendees, you’ll have more time to get used to the surrounding environment when it’s still calm and quiet. Moreover, it will be easier to strike a conversation with people, as they haven’t gotten themselves into any group yet.
2. Ask simple questions. To get the conversation started is easier than you think: just simply walk up to a person or a group and say, “May I join you?” or “What brings you to this event?”. If you’re not a natural extrovert, you’re probably a very good listener – and listening can be an excellent way to get to know a person.
3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember! Keep your conversations fun, light and informal. You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. Before the event, create a mental list of your recent accomplishments, such as the new client you’ve landed or a project you’ve completed recently. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list and into the conversation.
4. Share your passion. Leave a lasting impression by telling the story about why you were inspired to join your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
5. Smile. When you smile, your nerves de-stress and your face brightens up. You will instantly look more relaxed, friendly and open. So remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation.
6. Remember to follow up. Networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. Ask your new partners the best way to stay in touch, like email or phone, LinkedIn,… Get in touch within 48 hours after the event to show you’re interested and available. Try to reference something you discussed together or send a hot news on a subject that your contact specializes in. This way, your contact will remember you and the talk goes on.
Based on Colleen Debaise, www.entrepreneur.com