Networking: How to make the most of your network
Reaching out to new people is not an easy work to do, yet sometimes it is what really needs to be done. Attending networking events, establishing business contacts, and making small talk could become a nightmare. Feeling your knees shaking and your cheeks burning, getting a lump in your throat – all these things are probably very familiar to you.
Nevertheless, you can take the most out of the networking process even if you are a convinced introvert.
The first thing you need to understand is the nature of networking. Building networks is not just about finding new people, exchanging business cards and talking about nothing while getting nothing in exchange. Networking is an opportunity to meet new people with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. It is an opportunity to share your ideas and find new possibilities. All you need to do is step outside your comfort zone and start reaching out to people when you attend different events, and you will see for yourself!
Excellent networking is not about the quantity, but about the quality of new contacts. Think about this process in terms of depth, not breadth. Genuine relationships are built bit by bit, just like muscles during training. Be generous, friendly and outgoing, then your efforts will be paid off. To make things easier for yourself, make a note of the tips below:
1. Make it easy for people to start a conversation with you.
It could be done in various ways. For example, you can wear your company’s T-shirt. People will get curious and come up to ask you about the logo on your clothes. Be original and do something to catch their attention.
2. Always be ready to introduce yourself.
You never know where you will meet a potential investor for your business or people who are interested in what you are working on. Having an elevator pitch for 5 minutes or less could be useful for small talk.
3. Get people talking about what they really want to talk about.
Ask them questions (e.g. What brings you here? What do you hope to get out of this? What are you working on right now?), and be a good listener. Moreover, it is a perfect chance to understand if you can be useful to somebody or see how you can connect the people you know and become a matchmaker.
Hopefully, you will agree with me on the idea that personal contacts may open thousands of doors. Today, having a personal network is more important than ever. You are networking every single day – reaching out to new people and building relationships with them. As a result, you can find new business connections, partners, or clients. But remember that networking can be a time-consuming process, so start building your network long before you need it. As the famous saying goes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”
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