Whether attending formal networking events to connect with decision makers or networking with fellow colleagues, career advisers or other professionals to help enhance your career, the ability to build a quick rapport and be confident in your delivery is key.
So these are 10 tips to networking like one of the pros!
Don’t be too rehearsed
Whilst preparation is definitely a must. Coming across too rehearsed or scripted isn’t natural and will not lend to building relationships with the others.
Networking is all about people connecting so relax, be personable and have a fluid conversation. Whilst you should be professional, showcase your personality.
Have a confident introduction
Prior to attending any networking event consider the reason why you’re looking to build up new connections and use this in your introduction. Prepare a brief summary about yourself, including your work experience and look to add any interesting facts about yourself.
Be confident in your introductory pitch and avoid using phrases such as “erm” or “I’m not sure what else to say” and be specific and engaging in your delivery.
Don’t go straight into business
The aim of attending a networking event maybe to progress in your career or to get back into employment but never go straight into business. Networking should be a two way street and if people feel they’re getting pitched to straight away they’re likely to switch off.
First of all building some common ground and discuss more general subjects. Find a topic of conversation where you’re naturally able to introduce your reason for attendance, you’ll be more likely to grab their attention.
Take notes and Follow up
Once the event is over, that doesn’t mean you’re done. Follow up with every person you met. Even if you don’t think that person could help you in your job search, it’s polite to send a follow up. You never know when that connection could come in useful.
After discussions, write a short description of the person you met. This will help you remember them later on and allow you to personalise your follow up.
Don’t interrupt the conversation
Networking is all about quality over quantity so whilst you don’t need to “work the room” and meet everyone there. You do need to circulate.
Once you enter a new group don’t automatically introduction yourself and break the flow of conversation, wait for a break or look out for a conversational point you can add to. Interrupting comes across rude and networking isn’t supposed to be about making yourself the centre of attention.
Tips to Network like a Professional
Listen to others
Though you want to get across your pitch, learn that listening is a big part of the ability to effectively communicate.
Listen carefully to others and use the information they provide to add to the conversation. Without strong listening skills you might miss important details that could support your job search.
When you’re nervous it can be easier to stand in the corner and use the excuse of getting a drink to avoid meeting new people.
Stop standing by the bar and actually get into the centre of the room and start meet new people. Get out there, don’t hide behind others.
Engage and ask questions
Engaging with others will make you more memorable and asking questions will show your interest in others.
By questioning you will be able to enhance the discussion, leading the conversation.
Be on time
It’s a common mistake for new comers to the world of networking to think that arriving late will mean you can slide into the back and not be noticed. But always be on time.
Getting in early and meeting people as they arrive is much easier than trying to get into the conversation once people have already paired off.
Quality not Quantity
It’s better to create a few strong meaningful relationships than just going around saying hello to everyone in attendance.
Pinpoint the key people in attendance you want to meet and focus on building a rapport. Don’t get burden by thinking you have to move on at set time periods.