7 Tips for Becoming a Great Networker
Posted by Ellen Ericson on August 23, 2012 at 4:17 PM
Were you born a great communicator? If you have this skill innately you are very lucky. Many of us have to practice in order to hone our communication and relationship building skills. Advancing in a career depends a lot upon how good you are at what you do, and whom you know. Certainly, feeling comfortable meeting and networking with people is a huge asset in your professional growth. Below are 7 quick tips on networking effectively:
1. Act As if You Belong
Everyone feels a bit uncomfortable at these events. But, we are all there for the same reason, to meet each other. So act as if you belong because you do. This mental mindset will provide you with the confidence you need to make the most out of the event and accomplish the goals you set forth for yourself.
2. Have an Agenda
Create a strategy for yourself and do your homework before each networking event. Whom do you need to meet? What do you want to accomplish? Sometimes a well thought out plan for the evening can mean meeting two key people and sometimes it can mean working the room and letting your presence be known to a broad spectrum of attendees.
3. Introduce Yourself
Don’t be shy; it’s your duty to introduce yourself to people. A good business introduction is as easy as, “Hello my name is Jane Smith, I am with XYZ firm.” Don’t go to an event assuming people will approach you and introduce themselves and make it easy for you to have a conversation together. Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is showing up.” If that is true, than the other 20% is a lot of pressure on you to make sure your presence is known, so take the initiative and approach an individual or group of people and introduce yourself. You never know whom you’re going to meet.
4. Be Well Informed
Utilize your smart device and come to a networking event informed on current events and breaking news of the day. Having some interesting topics ready, as an icebreaker or conversation starter, will put you and everyone else around you at ease. Plus, you don’t want to be the one in the dark about a breaking news story. You either want to be the one breaking the news or prepared to respond to it intelligently.
5. Ask Interesting Questions
Small talk can be challenging, but here’s a secret…people love to talk about themselves, so let them! Ask good questions and get the other person talking about him or herself. Learn about them and figure out what makes them unique and interesting. Here’s a promise, when you allow someone to talk about themselves they will leave the conversation thinking that both you & they are wonderful.
6. Actively Listen
Are you a good listener? This skill is another tough but good one! Instead of having your mind wander after you ask a person a question about himself or looking at the door hoping one of the key persons on your personal agenda for the night is about to walk through it, actively listen to the person you are speaking with at that moment. It takes a special person to make someone feel as if they are the only person in the room at that moment. If you perfect this skill you will be the most popular person at the event.
7. Follow Up
Equally important as attending the event is the post-event follow up. After you meet a key person and have a good discussion with them, follow up. Perhaps you spoke about getting together for lunch to finish your discussion at the event. Contact the person the next day and get a date on the calendar. Even if you do not have an actionable next step from the day before, it is always a good idea to send an email stating that it was a pleasure meeting the person. You never know what kind of business opportunity may arise by continuing a rapport with the people you meet.
Ellen Ericson is a certified business etiquette and international protocol consultant. You can connect with Ellen on her Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/