People make an assumption of you in a few short seconds. When networking, you must deliver a striking, positive, eloquent and memorable impact. Here are some tips to help you succeed:
- Relax, smile and be yourself. Before even saying a word, your deportment, the way you carry yourself, your level of poise, and your attitude are paramount to fortifying engagement. To ease your nerves, think of networking as building a friendship, rather than it being a formal test of each other’s professional capabilities.
- Be open minded. Networking events are attended by people from diverse backgrounds. Remember that everyone can be a potential source of a lead, no matter where they are in their own career, or what function they hold.
- Stay the course. Leads don’t happen overnight. Develop a strategy and direction for your networking goals. Be willing to nurture your contacts and solidify relationships after the first meeting.
- Practice your elevator pitch. You must be confident and articulate in your delivery, and vary your pitch and tone of voice. Rehearse in front of the mirror, and also get feedback from a friend or colleague. Be sure to show your passion for what you do and the benefits you bring, in a way that compels a person to continue your conversation after the meeting.
- Ask intriguing questions that promote thought and engagement. Just like an interview, networking is a two-way street. You can learn so much from every conversation, even if you can’t immediately see the value you will get from the other person.
- Conversely, be a good listener. Never interrupt others. In a group, encourage dialogue to stimulate quieter people to share their own elevator pitch and leads. Not everyone is confident in networking settings, but that doesn’t mean they have less to offer.
- Leave your complaints at the door. Be genuinely positive and look for the good in others and in your own life situation. Otherwise, people will quickly pick up on your negative attitude, diminishing your brand and image.
- Follow up. It’s no use attending a networking event and opening a constructive dialogue with somebody who could generate leads and ideas, if you’re only going to drop the ball. Pursue the relationship by booking a meeting, sending a note, or scheduling the next time you’ll get back in touch. Make this a priority for as quickly as possible after the networking meeting.
Networking effectively is a critical tool of career management, but misusing this tactic will irreversibly diminish your career advancement.