Another set of tips to make networking less painful. What you can do to be an expert in social interaction (Part 2 of 2)
If you want to know why you must network to grow your business and yourself, read my prior blog “You must attend networking and social events, even if you don’t want to. Why?” After that, read the first set of tips “Squirming at the thought of networking? Here are some suggestions for you to become a master.” Come back here to get the final list of suggestions on what you can do to master networking. I’m offering tips to everyone out there who wants to be a better networker, and inevitably, be a better communicator and human being. It surely won’t hurt to try! Hopefully you’ll become an expert, and enjoy the ride.
- Be open to new information! Always remember that people have knowledge to offer and these people are more open and comfortable sharing themselves with someone actually interested in whatever they have to say. You are a student as much as a teacher. Trust me, learning is always beneficial to you, even if you aren’t interested at the time. How can becoming smarter hurt you? Be a sponge.
- Step out of your comfort zone! If you see a friend or acquaintance, it’s easy to stick with that person all night, hang-out and catch up. Bad idea. This is not what you attended the event for. You may bring your buddy along for the ride when you step out and meet others, but don’t forget your purpose. Networking is a meet-and-greet, not a reunion.
- Don’t attend flying brain-blind! Be versed in your line of business because I can guarantee that someday you will run into someone who knows more about your own line of work and may embarrass you in public. It’s alright not to be an expert, or perfect, and of course there are people out there more versed than you, but it’s not acceptable to attend an event and know nothing about what you should. Be aware of your own industry, as well as basic current events. Someone will always be chatting about current events. Ignorance is not bliss.
- Show passion and interest! No one can possibly be excited about your services or products, if you aren’t. Don’t forget that you are being judged as much as you judge others. Be excited about what you have to say and those around you will naturally follow. You are your own cheerleader.
- Networking is a social interaction! Although you attend with an agenda, yes, you are there to nurture new business, but that can’t be done without developing relationships. People want to do business with friends, family, and really great acquaintances. Sell yourself, then your product or service. The most important recognition and understanding in all sales and business development is that you are selling yourself. People do business with, and refer, contacts they actually like, respect and want to interact with. The public will most often choose a great salesman with a good product, before they deal with a devil with a pristine product or service. Be a pal first.
- Don’t prematurely judge others! People are entitled to have a bad day or to have spilled something on his or her suit, unable to change in time. Sometimes you simply don’t have enough information about his or her background to make an informed decision about who they are or what they are feeling at that specific moment. Always give people the benefit of the doubt and be nice. Judging them won’t help you get them as a source or client/customer. Be open-minded.
- Offer compliments and mean them! Remember learning that if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Totally true, but you can always find something positive to say to anyone. Complimenting a tie, or color, or something you may have heard about a person, is a quick and fast road straight to building wonderful relationships. Flattery does wonders.
- Remain humble! It’s wonderful if you are an expert at everything that comes out of your mouth, however, no one likes a know-it-all. I urge you to showcase your knowledge, but keep it within reason. Remember, I reiterate, everyone has something to offer and learn, including you. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
- Avoid negativity! No one likes a complainer. You must remain positive, no matter what is going on in your life, or what other people are saying. Stay neutral and it will help in the long-run. Everyone else around you may not agree with your opinions, so keep it light and positive. Be a ray of sunshine for those in the dark.
- Focus! No one likes having a conversation with someone looking everywhere else but at him or her. No one likes having a conversation when he or she feels like it’s being ignored or not taken seriously. Put away your smartphone for a bit, don’t stare at the attractive person walking in the door, and pay attention to the person paying attention to you. The grass isn’t always greener.
- Be appreciative! Every attendee is special, and so are you. Be thankful that you were chosen to speak with, that you are able to be present, and that you can see and hear everyone and everything around you. Thank the people you meet for taking the time to speak with you. Thank the host for having the event. People enjoy being appreciated as much as you do. Your presence and their presence, is a present.
- Showing up isn’t enough! Don’t stop networking the minute you walk out of the door. You must follow up. People receive many business cards and often throw them away, or off to the side. If you don’t make it a point to build the relationship and follow-up, it will wither and die. Water your pool for contacts consistently.
- A group is great! An argument can be made that it’s easier to network with a group in a discussion, rather than an individual. At least one person will always extend a hand and bring you into the group discussion. Additionally, statistically you are more likely to make a connection with someone in a group, rather than a single person, from a numbers point of view. Don’t be intimidated, jump into the pool.
- Individuals are important! I can also argue the alternative, that having a one-on-one conversation may be more fruitful than a group discussion. Maybe it’s happening for a reason and you are drawn to one particular person intentionally? Maybe he or she will be a key player in your business or life? Trust your instincts and do what your heart tells you to do. Just do it.
- Don’t give up! There may be a learning curve to consider. It may take some time for you to master the arts of social interaction and business development. Everything good takes time and effort.
I truly hope that these suggestions will start you on the road of an amazing journey, which grows your business and life as a whole. At the least, hopefully networking will be better and more enjoyable for you!
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