The Ultimate Guide to Networking
Posted by: Dahlia Green
Networking is a science, but more importantly it's about being yourself. Why do we click with certain people and want to run away from others? Sometimes it feels like a complete drag, and sometimes it is really fun. What matters ultimately is your attitude towards meeting new people. Feeling like an event isn't worth your time and no one looks interesting or fun to talk to will inherently make the evening a complete bore. So here are some helpful tips to get your mind right and excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.
Be open - there is opportunity all around you. Networking doesn't just exists at social events. Every time you leave your house, your office, waiting in the grocery line, you have the opportunity to meet a potential collaborator. From everyone there is something you can learn.
Don't put so much pressure on yourself. There are going to be nights where you feel awesome and the vibe is right, you are simply on on your game. Other nights you may be tired, overworked, in a reclusive mood and need some downtime. This is human nature and may be best to let yourself relax. However, remind yourself that all you have to do is show up. Even for 15 minutes. You can always leave, but you will never advance if you don't take action.
Be on the offense - Smile, reach out a hand and introduce yourself. "hello, I am x...so what brings you here?". Use open ended questions to invite conversation. Yes or no questions kill the conversation fast. Most importantly get them to talk. LISTEN. LISTEN. LISTEN. The very best networking is done by listening. If you hear what they have to say then you can know how to help them.
Be a giver - Listen to what they are saying and think of creative ways you can help. Maybe they just moved to the city and are looking for a roommate and you have a friend with an open room. Remember no one likes to be sold, they want to buy. Don't just whip out your sales pitch. It makes you look desperate and makes them uncomfortable. Take time to establish trust and in the end you will get much more out of the situation.
Get there on time. It is the perfect way to get situated and feel out the event. Also improves your chance to have a bite of the food and sip on a drink. Introduce yourself to the organizer and let them know what brings you there. They may know the perfect person to introduce you to and then your work is done.
Please please please don't be a card pusher! Yes, have cards available as a quick way to exchange info, but if you can, ask them for their card and send a follow-up within 24 hours so they remember you. Also include something personal about your conversation so you show the personable side, and remember it takes time to build relationships.
There is no magic formula, however the attitude and energy you bring will attract like energy. So show your passion, smile bright, be genuine and care! All making the process much more fun.