Room full of people you don’t know? Check. An abundance of handshakes and pitches? Check. Awkwardly hanging out by the buffet? Check. Networking can be overwhelming; especially since it’s not something we’re taught at school. And though this scenario is common at networking events, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to successfully make professional connections. Here are our best six networking tips for business success.
Use Connections You Already Have
If someone you know has connections with someone that you’d love to be introduced to, don’t be shy in utilizing that relationship to further your network of contacts. Ask if they can pass on their contact details or set up a meeting. Remember, successful networking doesn’t mean you have to get out there entirely on your own, it’s in fact the opposite, make the most of relationships you already have to create a snowball effect of contacts.
Make Use Of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a massively valuable tool in connecting with people that you otherwise would find difficult to in real life. Especially if you have mutual connections, most people on LinkedIn are open to being contacted in a professional capacity, so delve into their pool of people. Commenting, liking and generally increasing interaction on social channels will show that you’re an open, communicative person eager to spark interesting conversations. This will make connecting with people online an easier experience because they’ll be able to gauge your intentions and trust you in a professional capacity.
Let Other People Speak
Though networking can be a great opportunity to talk about your experiences and successes, don’t dominate the conversation. Let other people speak and see what you can learn from them. Building relationships is a two-way street, and if you’re a good listener you’re more likely to foster positive impressions and genuine connections. Ask questions like: what attracted you to your current position? How long have you been in this line of work? What do you like or dislike most about your role?
Remember To Say Thank You
Be grateful when someone helps you out or gives you valuable information, say thank you, and offer something in return. This type of interaction will build sincere relationships that are more likely to lead to positive stuff in the future. Bear in mind details about each person, so future conversations can be personalized.
Offer Help Based On Experience
If you encounter someone with an issue that you think you can solve, don’t just offer them a solution: tell your story. Give them an idea of a past experience, what you were faced with and how you overcame it. People like to hear personal anecdotes, and better understand your skills and knowledge.
Volunteering will expand your professional circle and list of contacts and open up new, and otherwise inaccessible opportunities. Help out with a local charity or business venture and add another string to your bow giving back to the community. This will make for a great conversation starter that’s easier to break the ice than discussing intense business matters.
Have you got any tips you’d like to share on networking? Give us your chat on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or read more career advice here.