There’s a few things I’ve learnt about networking that need to be shared here so that others can;
- Build better relationships with new people they meet
- Making a lasting first impression
Now, before you cry that you are an introvert and that you are too scared to step outside your comfort zone to meet new people… Networking accelerates success! Period.
No matter what profession you are in or what educational facility you attend, networking will pave your way to becoming an authority to be known. The more people you can connect with, the more success you will have in your chosen path. So if you prefer the non-successful path (which if you’re here, you don’t) sit back and keep to yourself.
The best way to network with people you have just met is to find common ground in the first instance. Then, keep the conversation light, make jokes every now and then. Build a genuine relationship! Not just a fly by night relationship where you exchange business cards (which then get thrown in the office drawer never to be seen again).
Asking insightful questions about them will intrigue them and ensure you are remembered. When asking questions, PAY ATTENTION like your life depended on it. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so use your precious cargo to listen and make the person feel valued. I get it, you haven’t looked at your phone for 30 seconds and you just need to check it while the person is talking – wrong! Take notes. After you have connected, write down their name. Ensure that during your conversation you use their name twice out loud. To avoid looking like a robot say it once when they tell you their name, and the second time when you leave the conversation. If you do this whilst looking at their face you are sure to remember it. And make yourself look pretty clever the next time you meet.
If you truly want to increase your network, (because lets be honest, increasing your network increases your net worth) become a super connector. What’s a super connector you ask? This is someone who introduces and connects people because they have identified one of those people to have a need and the other person to have a solution or skill to meet that need. The simple act of doing this will lead to so many open doors and connections that you can poke a stick at (not that it’s nice to poke sticks!).
Now lets go back to the introvert excuse for lack of networking. Sure, it’s easy to use this as a scape goat but will you sit inside forever and not talk to anyone who may bring the greatest joy to your life? Or you to them? Heck no! Use the thing we were talking about before.. you know that device that is constantly stuck to the palm of your hand? That thing we call our smart phone is actually really useful for introverts. Connect with people online first. Start an online relationship with people who you look up to, want to connect with, or that you know you are going to meet at an upcoming event. This will help break the ice when you meet them in person and give you something to talk about when you do meet up. You then get to skip that awkward small talk stage where both people are sizing each other up.
The best thing to do to make future connections less awkward is to stop overthinking every conversation you have ever had. There is no need to go over and over what you said, how you said it, or they responded. Try to concentrate on what went well and use those strong points heading into your next encounter.
There is one sure fire way to self sabotage your networking efforts and that’s by not maintaining the relationship. Often we are good and building and destroying relationships and forget the middle part – which is why we build it in the first place. Ensure that the people you create strong connections with remain a part of your life. Drop them a line every now and then, ask how they are (genuinely) and don’t keep them all to yourself, introduce them to others.
I would love to hear about your successful networking attempts and your not so successful ones. Let me know by commenting below, or by connecting with me on Facebook. (Cindy Patterson)