Whether you are looking to grow your business or you are on the hunt for a new job – networking is a vital component to success. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but don’t worry, it is a skill that can be learned. Improving that skill will open new resources and opportunities up to you and allow you to be more proactive in reaching your goals.
- Put Yourself Out There
While you may not love networking or believe you are very good at it you probably already have a number of contacts that you can turn to. So, have a look at who you already know in the same industry as you and reach out to them.
- Join Networking Groups
What better way to improve your networking skills than by joining in. There are plenty of groups you can join, whether it’s directly related to your industry or an alumni type of event – they provide networking opportunities. These groups host regular events and allow you to grow your contacts list. Don’t be afraid to accept a speaking engagement, it will grow your reputation and help you build your profile.
When you are at an event there are some tips that can help you out. Firstly, always carry business cards in a handy pocket (make sure to bring enough to go around). Dress well, it will boost your confidence and make a great first impression. Have a brief introduction ready that covers both you and your business. If you tend to get nervous when meeting people that’s really important. Don’t spend too much time with the people you already know, move on to meeting new people. Beware of getting caught up with what others can do for you and instead shift the focus on what you have to offer – don’t a hard sell, instead ask questions. When you bow out of a conversation ask if you can contact them, suggest a meeting subject, and exchange business cards. When you leave the meeting make sure you put their contact details on your phone immediately – you don’t want to risk losing or misplacing their card.
- Social Media
Places like LinkedIn provide a great opportunity for those within industries to contact each other and meet up. It’s an excellent way to connect with people and expand your network. If you reach out to someone you have never met in person before be mindful of how you approach them. Don’t go in guns blazing with a hard sell, instead introduce yourself softly and in much the same way as you would do in person.
- It Isn’t All About You
This bears repeating – whether it’s in person, over the phone, email or social media – don’t get too caught up in making everything about yourself. The best way to make contacts is by actively listening to others and being interested in what they have to say. You will stick in their mind and allow you the opportunity to build a strong and trusting relationship off the back of it.