Proactively growing your network can open up new opportunities for personal and business growth. Are you following the best practices to make the most of every connection? The next time you’re at a networking event, try these five business tips for successful interactions and networking success.
You may have heard leading with an “elevator pitch” is the best way to make a good impression when meeting a new contact, but starting a relationship by marketing yourself isn’t going to get you optimal results. Save the pitch for sales opportunities, and use your face-to-face time to have meaningful interactions. Approach conversations with long-term business relationships in mind, aiming to make a lasting connection rather than a quick sales pitch.
Conversations aren’t presentations in which you tell the other person your life’s story or detail the ups and downs of your business journey. They are real discussions, meaning there’s a measure of give-and-take. Offer the other person the opportunity to talk about themselves, their work and anything else they feel is important to share. Pay attention to what they’re saying rather than spending the time thinking about your next monologue. By showing genuine interest, maintaining eye contact and asking relevant questions makes the other person more comfortable, they’ll remember that you actually cared about what they were saying.
Stepping outside your immediate circle to make connections in other industries diversifies your contacts to provide new insights and opportunities. Be open to introductions even if they don’t seem immediately relevant. Each person you meet has their own network, so there’s no limit to the beneficial relationships you can cultivate.
Solid business relationships begin with conversations, not cards. As you interact with a new contact, gauge whether you’re making a real connection. Consider the potential benefits of staying in touch for both personal and professional development. If you feel there is a mutual benefit, ask for their card and give your card in return before parting ways. Leave as good of an impression as you started with. Be gracious, shake hands and let them know you’ll be in touch.
After promising to stay in touch with new connections, you need to keep your promise. While it’s not necessary to rush to your email and send messages to everyone you just met, it’s a good idea to follow up with a note or phone call within a reasonable period of time. Remind your contacts where and when you met, and highlight what you enjoyed about the conversation. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help them grow their network, and they’re likely to help you do the same in return.
These five simple business tips for networking success can put you on track to networking like a pro. Keep an eye out every day for opportunities to meet people and maintain a growing and dynamic contact list. The more you expand your network, the greater the chances of networking success in your industry and beyond.
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