As the old adage goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” As much as your professional capabilities are important, broadening your professional network is key to getting up a notch on the job ladder. Whilst it may not be a prospect which most eagerly await, networking is an unavoidable reality in the professional world, and it’s a skill, if utilised properly, which could dramatically boost your career.
So without further ado, here at CVcorrect, we’ve compiled 10 indispensable networking tips to finely hone your networking skills.
Do your preparation
Before you attend a networking event, see if you can research anything about the attendees. More often than not, there will be activity on Twitter or LinkedIn in the lead-up to the event so you can see who is going. Having an idea about what the attendees do or even the mutual connections you have in common will come in handy when you meet them on the day.
Have business cards handy (lots of them)
Nothing screams unprepared like coming to a networking event without any business cards, so remember to have business cards printed out before the day. When making vital contacts, you want to make sure your networking doesn’t go to waste, especially as business cards are an effective memory aid to put names to faces. Ensure your business cards stand out and use the limited space as a mini-résumé.
Contrary to the usual late arrival to make an entrance, arriving early to networking events helps to alleviate the social anxiety as groups have yet to have formed. As the crowds haven’t arrived, you can talk to people on a one-to-one level and warm up, before everyone else arrives.
Dress to Impress
This should go without saying but keeping a professional appearance will give a boost to your mindset. Make sure you’re wearing something smart yet comfortable and you will find yourself ready to engage and network the night away.
Keep ice-breakers simple
Another way to reduce social anxiety is to use simple ice-breakers to spark conversations with new contacts. A simple “May I join?”, “Why did you decide to come to this networking event?” or “Do you work in this industry?” is all you need to begin the conversation. Keep things simple and you’ll find out how easy it is to network.
Leave your agenda at the door
As much as networking is key to furthering your career, making contacts is about connecting on a one-to-one level – without the sales pitch. Keep networking light and informal and let your personality shine – people are more likely to do business with people whose company they enjoy. Of course, if you’re asked about your business or what you do, show your passion, but ensure you don’t dominate the conversation with business talk.
The art of listening is often an underrated yet extremely powerful skill to have, especially when networking. Everyone is itching to have their say, but show your new contacts you are giving them your full attention. The worst networking sin you can commit is scanning the room whilst chatting to someone else. Ask them questions, listen to their responses and show interest in what they’re saying, listening is a sure-fire way to win over your new acquaintances.
It’s surprisingly simple yet effective, a smile can dramatically someone’s perspective of you. Smiling makes new acquaintances more likely to engage with you and it will give you a boost of confidence, putting your anxiety at ease. All it takes is one smile to be the doorway to a plethora of opportunities.
Move onto the next conversation diplomatically
Blowing off your newly made contact to talk to someone else will undo all the good work you’ve just done. Use these top tips from Michele Wymer to naturally end the conversation and give yourself another chance to do more networking or have a reprieve from all the busy networking activity: grab yourself something to eat or drink, go to the toilet, excuse yourself to take a business call or introduce them to a new person. End things on a high with your newly made business contact and it will make a lasting impression.
Don’t let people forget your fine self. Take action within 48 hours of the initial meeting by contacting them. Send them an email or connect on social media to let them know how much of a pleasure it was to meet them. Most importantly, make sure the message is personal. Send them a link or suggest an event that may be of interest to them and you will demonstrate that you remembered and listened to them. Showing you’re a useful business contact to have will ensure you keep in touch for years to come.
Whilst networking may not come naturally to some, there are a few things you can do to ensure your networking efforts are a roaring success. It’s all a matter of advance preparation and engaging and charming your new acquaintances. Take this networking tips on board and you’ll expand your professional network in no time. It really is that simple.