20 Dec 7 tips to network smarter
While there are always a few social butterflies who relish networking at business functions, the rest of us find the experience nerve wracking and are left with a jittery stomach full of butterflies. Along with a little forethought and planning, these tips can help you make the most of your networking event and reduce the social discomfort and uncertainty:
- Come preparedMake sure you have all of the material you’ll need to share information about yourself or your company. Even in the digital age, it’s still important to bring plenty of business cards.
- Know who will be thereIt’s smarter to invest in meeting a small number of relevant individuals instead of a mass of superficial connections you won’t be able to utilize Review the guest list to an event ahead of time if it’s available. Note any relevant individuals who will attend, and plan to meet them before you leave. Networking strategies are far more effective if you’re intentional in you interactions.
- Have a goalAlthough quality trumps quantity, determining how many people you would like to meet during the event can be helpful, especially if you don’t know who will be in attendance. For instance, you may have a goal of meeting 12 new people. Don’t leave until you have met or exceeded your initial goal. After all, you may meet someone who is extremely helpful.
- Act generouslyIf you truly want to connect with someone, find a way to help them. Whether you can offer referrals, relevant information about upcoming events or news in the field or offer to introduce visitors to others, any kind of assistance you can offer will allow you to stand out to your new contact and ideally solidify a relationship. Having a generous spirit is one of the greatest assets you can possess as you develop new relationships and contacts.
- Use your time wiselyDon’t spend too much time with one person. Aim to spend 10 minutes or less with each individual. If you meet an individual whom you click with, arrange an appointment at their convenience to talk in greater depth. Try not to spend too much time lingering in the safety of your friends or people you already know well.
- Keep track of those you meetMake sure you receive a business card from everyone you meet. If you want to up your game, ask your contacts for two business cards, one for you to keep and one for you to pass along. On the back of the business card they handed you, record details that will help you remember the individual. Ideally this information will come in handy when you follow up with your new contact.
- Follow upCall, email or message your new contacts, but don’t forget to follow up with them to solidify the connection. If you don’t follow up, your excellent networking skills will very likely be wasted on relationships that are never utilized.
Schmoozing with strangers may never come easily to some, but giving yourself time to create a smart game plan ahead of time will allow you to solidify your strategy to make networking less scary and more effective.