Attend Events: If you’re in the business world, opportunity is not something that is just going to fall into your lap. You have to go out and find opportunities. You can do this by going out to events, conferences and other business functions. While there, be sure to shake hands and make connections.
Decide Your Networking Goals: Before attending any professional gatherings, decide what your networking goals are. You may be looking to grow your client base, you may be looking for job prospects, you may be looking to increase your knowledge and skills in general … and the list goes on. Establishing your goals beforehand will help you find the right people to talk to and steer the conversation in the right direction.
Be Polite: This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised to find how many people break basic rules of etiquette when talking to others. This could be a major misstep if you are trying to make a valuable business connection. During professional conversations, be sure to steer clear of any behavior that might come across as disrespectful. Stay off your phone, keep your conversation out of the gutter and be brief and interesting.
Treat Everyone Like a Future Boss: You never know when you might end up in a position where you will be working with or even under someone that you would have never expected to work with. When meeting people in the business world, always treat them with the respect you would give to your superiors, even if they are in a position that is lower than yours. Tables can turn in unexpected ways!
Ask What You Can Do For Them: In keeping with the theme of treating everyone like a future boss, show your contacts that you are willing to work. Even if you offer to get them a glass of water, it will show that you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty in an effort to help them reach their goals.
Focus on Their Best Interest: A lot of people talk without listening or steer conversations to put their interests first. This can be a big turn off when you’re trying to make connections in the business world. When speaking to someone important, make sure to think of their goals and what they are interested in and focus your conversation accordingly.
Share Free Information (And Ask for Feedback): The best way to get information is to give it. If you give a contact your information, it will increase your value in their eyes. It will also make them more likely to share with you. When you share information, be sure to ask for feedback. This will let your client know you value their opinion and it may also give you more insight on the matter at hand.
Research the Contact: This world of updated technology has given us the tools to find information out about almost anyone we meet. Use this to your advantage by doing a bit of research on your contact. That way, you can find out how you can build a relationship with them that will be mutually advantageous.
Build a Rapport: Once you have met someone in a professional setting, you will want to build a rapport. You can do this when you meet them by showing a genuine interest in what they are saying. Take it to the next level by staying in contact, even if it’s just a friendly hello every so often.
Follow Up: You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? A follow up is a great way to let a person know you are serious. After meeting a contact, follow up with an email or text a few days later. Let them know how nice it was to meet them and bring up any professional matters that may have been discussed.
Utilize Online Networking Tools: Connecting through professional social media channels is another great way to stay in touch. There are plenty of online networking tools that are geared towards the business world. Make sure you have a profile on online networks that are most suitable to your industry. Then, use those networks to search for like minded people that you can make valuable connections with.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Socializing can be stressful for anyone, but if you’re trying to advance in your professional career, it is necessary for you to get comfortable in this arena. Work on introducing yourself to other people, steering conversations in the right direction and making sure the person you are speaking to is aware of your goals and ideas. The more you do it, the more confident you will become!
Networking is a necessary step in the world of business. Make sure you are doing all you can to make the right connections so that you can move forward in your career. We wish you the best of luck in achieving your goals.