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Networking does not have to be a difficult exercise. There are various tips out there to help you build the confidence to do it right. Face-to-face networking is paramount to building relationships and contacts in business. We will discuss some handy tips that we ourselves depend on.
Before attending, set yourself a few goals to achieve at the event. Goals such as speaking to at least 3 people, giving out 10 business cards, or even just sticking to a certain duration of attendance (for example 2 hours). Bare in mind, you should only hand out your business card to people you believe you can synergise with in the future. Try not to hand out your business cards like candy, or before you know it you will be ordering another box.
Create a basic script
To overcome any natural nerves or hesitancy with networking create a script that helps you begin the conversation about yourself. Yes it is difficult to talk about yourself, but how else will people come to understand how you can help them. First greet and introduce yourself and then make sure that what you say leaves the listener walking away knowing exactly who you are and what you do. Rehearse the script as much as possible, so you can say your spiel with ease and confidence.
Ask questions and actively listen
Small talk can be awkward at the best of times, but you can help counter that by asking questions. Try not to ask questions that will lead to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer as this will lead to a stagnant conversation. Ask questions that are open-ended such as ‘What brings you here?’, or ‘How did you get involved in what you do?’. This will build your comfort level as well as the other persons. Following on from asking questions, make sure you actively listen to the other person. This is how you build relationships. Listening shows interest, showing your interest puts other people at ease and allows them to open up.
Have a process in place
So you have successfully worked a room, networking up a storm but what to do with all these business cards? Don’t allow them to pile up on your work desk or sit in the bottom of that second drawer you never open. Compile the contact information you have into your chosen CRM database. It doesn’t end there, within 48 hours follow-up your newfound contacts via email to remind them who you are and what you do. Another way to follow-up is to connect with these contacts on LinkedIn. Making sure you have a process in place, will ensure all your networking efforts don’t go to waste.
Give volunteering a go
This is a tip that will improve your confidence with networking ten-fold, if you have the time you should give it a go. Talk to the organisers of a networking event to see if they need someone to meet and greet at the registration desk. As people enter you will engage in casual conversation, you can use this as a kind of ice-breaker and possibly follow them up later on in the event. Another way to volunteer is by speaking at an event, it will showcase you and your business and how you can help others in the room. Volunteering more often will ensure that you will become more confident and well known in networking circles.
There will be significant benefits if you put in the time to network with others. These are just a few points that we believe are important to your success at networking.
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