02 Mar Level up your networking
So, you’re in a room surrounded with strangers…
If you’re an intorvert like me, one thing not to do is not to get too comfortable by the bar (which can look extra appealing).
Some helpful tips include:
Try a different approach rather than the cliché: “So, what do you do?
Ask about hobbies and passions. Find shared non-work interests and start an engaging likeminded conversation from there.
Some people tend to look around and fidget when someone is talking to them. You might overhear someone who sounds more interesting but give the person in front of you your undivided attention and respect. Make an effort to listen more than you speak. This may pay you back by learning something new and insightfully unexpected from the person in front of you.
Focus on serving others first, rather than seeing what you can get out of them
What you have to give may have nothing to do with you or your business and that’s ok. The whole purpose to give. By doing so, you will come across as an authentic resource to them. From that, people have been inclined to want to connect with me more. Even if I haven’t gained anything professionally from them yet, it’s great to have them there as a contact because who knows what will eventuate in the future.
Don’t push an agenda
If you meet someone who can be obviously beneficial to you don’t roll out your sales pitch. People don’t want to be sold to. Be relaxed and focus on developing a long term friendship first. One way to do this is ask them a question about them or their industry to open an initial dialogue.
Don’t over commit or feel guilty
It’s ok to meet people and have a good time, but don’t feel like you have to stay in touch just because they gave you their business card. You will attend many networking events and meet heaps of people in the process. If someone wants to meet you after the event, don’t feel like you have to say yes just because they are in front of you. Likewise, if you didn’t connect with anyone, don’t feel bad bad about it either.
Don’t lie about anything – you may get caught out. Once I met someone, who was fascinating to listen to. He was talking about his experience all his amazing professional accomplishments. This particular networking group then invited everyone to a private Facebook group and I found him there. Wanting to connect with him on LinkedIn, I found his profile and to my surprise, it was contradicting a lot of things he had told me. It was a real shame because I felt he used it as an opportunity to brag about someone he really wasn’t.
When I speak to people, I’m not going to be ashamed of mentioning my journey or my weaknesses. It’s part of the evolution of me – personally and professionally. If someone speaks honestly admitting when there is a gap in their knowledge, personally, that rawness resonates more. If you fabricate things to make yourself be perceived better, you might get embarassingly caught out.
Take action as soon as you can.
If you want to connect with someone after the event, take action to make it happen. Text them and connect with them on social media on the way home in the Uber. It is better to get onto it quickly before you get bogged down with work and distractions at home.
Your goal should be not make it a stand alone event. You want to attract people who you like and start relationships. Think of it was an opportunity to connect and make friends with likeminded people, rather than merely a work opportunity.
This is because your network has a massive effect on you.
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”Dan Peña