Even the best and most experienced executives can find themselves feeling flustered, or even nervous, before a networking event. It is a normal feeling, and one that many other attendees are likely to be feeling before they arrive. It can be awkward, and something you generally want to avoid, but you shouldn’t. Networking is important, and so here are a few pieces of advice on how to network like a professional.
The Importance of Networking
Networking is more important than you may think, and it is something that should be taken seriously. The primary reason for networking is career advancement. It helps you to meet the right people and impress them, leaving them with a good impression that could help you land the promotion you’ve had your eye on. It could even lead to a whole new set of opportunities. You won’t know unless you go and show them what you have to offer.
Networking Advice: Introductions
The registration desk can be a very helpful place to start when it comes to getting introductions. Once you have let them know why you are attending the event, they are usually happy to give you the names of a few attendees that might suit you well, or even introduce them to you.
Introducing yourself to the organiser is an excellent step to take next. Introducing yourself makes a good impression, which may make them consider inviting you to the next networking event. However, they also tend to know everyone attending and so can introduce you to the right people.
Wherever you see a group of people, go to them. Force yourself to mingle with the groups and introduce yourself to everyone there. Make an impression and get to know the people there.
Networking Advice: Engagement
The first thing to remember is that you must always be friendly to those around you and to all of the people you meet. Even if the other person seems a little cold, give them a smile and shake their hand in a friendly manner. You have to build the rapport first and let the connection grow over time.
Remember that it is all about the other person. Get to know them before they get to know you. People love to talk about themselves and their businesses, so give them the opportunity to do this. Ask them questions that will help you to determine if they are a good fit for you and your goals. This allows you to assess who you are most suited to networking with.
Make sure you give them a reason to connect with you. Others will only want to become a part of your network if you can offer them something positive on a personal or professional level, so make sure that you are that person. Offer your network and support, and the favour will be returned.
Networking Advice: Maintenance
Maintenance is key. After the event, you must not lose contact with your new connections. Follow up with them afterwards, using specific details you learned about them on the night to personalise your communication and make it more relevant. People tend to like the personalised touch, so use it to your advantage.
Social media is also your friend when it comes to maintaining relationships with these people. Consider setting up a group on LinkedIn that you and your contacts could become a part of. You can also use this time to browse their LinkedIn pages to learn more about their businesses as well as their own opinions on business-related matters.
Following this easy steps will have you networking like a professional in no time at all. Remember to have a clear goal in mind with regards to what you are looking for, as well as reasonable expectations for the results of the event. Networking may seem daunting, but it is a lot easier than it looks when you are prepared.