Networking has the ability to open many windows and doors to anyone at any stage of their career. Meeting and talking to the right people can earn you free advice, awareness of you and your company, word-of-mouth referrals and if done correctly, networking has the potential to gain you credibility, trust, professionalism, knowledge and expertise.
Here’s a list of best and worst ways of doing networking:
1. Put your best foot forward
There is no benefit sitting in the corner by yourself. Don’t be afraid to say hello to people around you. The chances are they are just as nervous as you.
2. “Elevator Pitch”
Be quick, concise and accurate when describing your business. Ensure you engage your listener from the get-go and make it memorable.
3. Business cards
Make sure you have more than enough with you as they are a great way to exchange details, as well as allowing you a way of reconnecting the following day. One great little tip is to jot on the back of your card the time and place you met, so your new business contact remembers.
4. Follow up
Whats the use of meeting people if you don’t follow up afterwards?
5. Listen and learn
This is a valuable lesson in life and not just business. Take time to learn from others’ experiences.
You cannot expect to get something without offering anything in return. Offer free help, favors, advice or reduced cost services.
7. Patience is a virtue
Networking is developing strong, long-standing business relationships. Don’t expect to reap the rewards immediately. Good things come to those who wait.
8. Prepare questions
Anticipate the kind of people you are likely to meet and think about what you would like to ask them, what you would like to learn from them.
1. Don’t be timid
And only talk to people you already know. Networking isn’t just for the flamboyant big-shots or charismatic colleagues.
2. Don’t only speak to one person
The more the better.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Everyone is scared of appearing ignorant or stupid but there’s no need. The vast majority of people will relish the opportunity to peacock their knowledge and expertise, so make sure you ask as many questions as you can.
4. Avoid overzealous self-promotion
This tactic is more likely to annoy than build valuable relationships.
5. Don’t forget to follow up
This is so important, we’re saying it twice.
6. Don’t get drunk
Especially at the more informal meet-ups, there is the chance they will be serving alcohol. Even though a little Dutch courage can help the confidence, appearing intoxicated is the worst thing you could possibly do.