Loved by some, dreaded by many, networking is one of the most important things you can do to further advance yourself and your business in today’s competitive market.
For some people, networking luckily comes as easily as riding a bike- for others, not so much.
These helpful dos and don’ts are great beginner tips aimed to make networking less intimidating and more rewarding for you and your business.
The Dos of Networking
- Be prepared. Make sure that your LinkedIn and even business cards are updated before you attend the event. A recently reviewed LinkedIn or website allows connections to better understand you and your skill set quickly and ensure you aren’t scrambling to provide information to them later.
- Be brave! One of the worst feelings in life is walking away from something knowing you didn’t maximize the opportunities right in front of you. Try to prevent this by walking in the doors with a positive attitude- after all, networking is a great opportunity to speak to professionals passionate about similar things. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially for more introverted professionals. If networking is difficult for you, take baby steps- try approaching an odd-numbered group of professionals as statistically, chances are good the odd-one-out will want a partner! Or you can do what Google VP Jerry Dischler does; treat networking as a single-player game where the more people you talk to, the more “points” you get!
- Find common ground or ask to work together. When first meeting someone, Harvard Business Review recommends starting by identifying common interests or connections you share. They note that “when your networking is driven by substantive, shared interests you’ve identified through serious research” or a mutual collaboration on a project, your connection “will feel more authentic and meaningful” rather than simply transactional.
- Go in for the hard sell. While eagerness is oftentimes positive, an obvious pitch within the first few notes of your conversation may reflect poorly on you or your business. As Forbes said so succinctly, try focusing on listening first, then “demonstrate how you can help create value” for the individual you are speaking to or their business.
- Treat it as a meet and greet. It’s good to try to meet a wide variety of people while networking but dumping your resume or business cards upon unwitting conversation partners in-mass is not a strong strategy. A more in-depth conversation not only allows you to really get to know the person standing across from you but greatly increases your chances of yielding a positive result.
- Forget to follow up. It’s easy to neglect or put off sending that follow-up email or LinkedIn request after a great conversation, thinking there will be one hundred more just like it in the future. However, the reality is that you have no idea which conversation can turn into a real opportunity. Once you reach out to that person, make sure to deepen your connection by offering to grab coffee or lunch.
Our AJA Marketing team can help prepare you and your business for networking events with advanced marketing and business development strategies.
As a woman-owned, small business, we know what it feels like to have a passion for the work you do, and a desire to share it with the world. Help us help you!
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