Do you hear the word “networking” and break out in a sweat? Or do you just groan internally because you dread the thought of having to do just that?
Being a fearless networker allows you to develop a relationship with people from all walks of life and sometimes, you’ll meet some pretty amazing people in the process. Networking allows you to show your value to decision-makers and ultimately, help you better position yourself for more exciting opportunities.
There are two main networking settings – in person and online. And if you’re worried about that next networking session, fear not for we have some tips for how to network in person.
1. Do your homework and develop a plan
- Prior to attending an event, do your homework. Try to find out who is attending the event. Then, use the internet and try to find out as much as possible about people you know that will be attending the event.
- The internet can help you learn a lot about people and their backgrounds. Key information to research should include: where they work, what schools they attended (if that is available) if they have been in any news lately, what positions they hold at work and any commonalities. A great resource is an individual’s LinkedIn profile if they have one.
- Information like this will help you speak to these people at the event.
- Once you’ve researched the necessary information you need, rank the people you want to meet in order of importance to you. This means how you rank them will depend on your goal.
- At events, there may not be a lot of time. Thus, it is important to manage your time and be able to network wisely.
2. Execute your mission
- At the event, use your ranked list of individuals to start introducing yourself to the people you want to get to know. If you feel you are not able to introduce yourself directly to the person, find ways of being introduced to them through a mutual acquaintance or a mutual friend.
- Addressing people by their names and a firm but not a hard handshake gives good impressions. Making eye contact when you meet a person for the first time is also very important in making a good impression.
- Once an introduction is made, the main important thing is to highlight commonalities to keep the conversation flowing.
- In using commonalities, you’ll help create an emotional connection with the person, helping that person remember you.
- Always remember to be professional when speaking with that person. Do not force an introduction or include in the conversation information about them that is not public knowledge. Be discreet and do not summarise their career for them. You’ll end up freaking them out instead!
3. Follow-up your conversation
- Following up on your conversation with a timely note highlighting parts of your discussion and expressing both your interest in staying in touch with them and your willingness to be of help is key.
- Exchange business cards and if it’s possible, send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, to help you keep that connection.
- Learn to read the person you are talking to. If they are not willing to share much information about themselves, learn to take a step back and not push so much. No one likes someone who pushes too hard.
- If you find that they do not have a LinkedIn profile, that’s fine because, with their business card, you’ll be able to keep in touch with them via email or even through a phone call.
- The sooner you follow up, the less likely it is that a person going to forget you.
Do not hesitate to work that room and connect with people who interest you. Quell that fear because networking is all about getting to know people and also reaching out for opportunities that there are out there.
You know that saying that you don’t ask, you don’t get? Well, it’s true in some cases, so don’t lose out. Work that room fearlessly and may good opportunities flow your way.