5 Professional Networking Tips
When it comes to networking, some people are just naturals, others need a little bit more help. For those who’d benefit from some guidance, there are a few tips below to help you feel more relaxed at your next networking opportunity, and hopefully take the chance to benefit from the event. If you need some extra training or suggestions, speak with a professional training company like Predictable Success who can help you improve your social skills for improved work and social networking.
Have business cards ready
Obviously, a work end-of-year party is going to be less of a networking event and more a relaxed social event, so pick your networking moments strategically. But if you feel there is a slight possibility that you may encounter an appropriate networking opportunity, ensure you have adequate business cards available. Also make sure you are collecting business cards: don’t be the only person handing them out. When you get back to the office, you can then send off a quick ‘nice to meet you’ email so you have established early contact.
Keep one hand free
Many networking events come with food and drinks available, but few things can be as uncomfortable as the moment you meet a new person when both your hands are full of coffee cups and canapés. Choose one to hold and either leave the other, or stand near a table so you aren’t forced to hold both at one time. This keeps you free at all times to actively meet people without the awkward moment when they try to shake your hand while it’s full of food.
Use the person’s name
When you first meet someone, repeat their name to them: this will help you to remember it and will also reinforce that you are actively listening to them. Feel free to occasionally drop their name into the conversation as it moves forward to keep them feeling focussed and to assure them you are invested in your time with them. When the networking event is drawing to a close, ensure you approach the people you met throughout, thank them using their name and say goodbye. A thoughtful exit is just as good as a great entrance.
Speak up and speak slowly
You’re at a networking event. It’s not exactly a quiet, empty library space. There are plenty of people around you, and all of them will be talking. Do your new contact a favour by speaking loudly and clearly and not rushing nervously through what you’re saying. It can be hard enough concentrating on what someone is saying without having to fight to hear it as well.
If in doubt, ask questions
Most people fear the thought of awkward silences, but the good news is that they are entirely within your control. Take some time to invest in the other person, allow yourself to be interested in them and what they are saying, and enquire about them, their work, their interests and anything else that may come up.
These are just a few small tips to help you network more effectively. What are your top tips for networking?