Networking. Friend or Foe?
Would you agree with this? Networking is one of the most intimidating parts of business. Whether you are looking for new clients or a new job, it’s almost a “given” that you’ll be concerned about how you should look, talk or act when you’re out there “among them”.
However, regardless of how we feel about it, it’s a vital part of our business success. We need to turn that “foe” into a “friend”—maybe we can become less anxious and actually enjoy it?
Full disclosure here: I love networking! It is one of my favorite activities as a business owner. And, not to ‘toot’ my own horn or anything (well, maybe just a little)—but I think I’m pretty good at it too.
If you find networking intimidating or want to spruce up your skills, here are some tips from a “serial” networker that just might help you out.
15 Do’s and Don’t of Networking Success
1. Do go to an event with a specific goal in mind. Before you go (even better, before you commit to attend), think about what will make you say, at the end of the evening, “This was worth my time.” Work toward being able to say that throughout the entire event.
2. Do make sure that you make three to five new connections. Don’t immediately qualify the immediate benefit-to-you of having met and connected with new people. All new connections are valuable to you.
3. Don’t work the entire room—unless you are a butterfly. Really making a connection requires spending some time to listen to each person you meet. Give that person the time they deserve.
4. Do focus your attention on the person you are meeting. Listen. We rarely remember the person who talked and talked and talked. But we do remember the person who listened to us.
5. Don’t talk about yourself the entire time. See number four above. This point is so critical to your success in networking that it deserves two spots on the list.
6. Don’t throw out sales pitches. You’re there to meet—not to sell. Just realizing that you’re not likely to sell anything—that you’re not even supposed to sell anything at a networking event, should remove lots of the anxiety.
7. Do have an elevator pitch to keep you from having a ‘deer in a headlight’ look. Write it and practice it. When someone says, “What do you do?” What is that—in words that really mean something.
8. Don’t be a wallflower. The other people attending the event may also be ill at ease. Focus on making them feel better by being the person who says, “Hi, my name is _____, and you’re….?” They will be so pleased that someone else took the first step.
9. Do show enthusiasm about what you do. You do that work, so it means you must like (love?) it? Let the people you meet see and hear your passion.
10. Do invest in great business cards. We’re not all digital yet. When you walk away, it’s your card that new person will refer to when they’re remembering the person who listened so well.
11. Do ask questions and show interest in the people you meet. Yes, it’s coming back around again…more listening to the other person, less talking.
12. Don’t scan the room when someone else is talking. That’s just rude…and hurtful to the other person.
13. Do follow up immediately with new connections. They’ve made their three to five connections at that event also. Make sure that you’re the one they remember.
14. Do keep your word if you tell someone you are going to do something for them. Good business, ethical, polite…all of those things that lead to success.
15. Do stay confident even if you are a nervous wreck. And how do you do that? By remembering that the “other guy” is probably a nervous wreck too. Look out for him (or her or them) and you’ll also take care of yourself.
Networking doesn’t need to be scary or intimidating.
The more you do it successfully, the less worry you will feel. The most important things to remember when networking is to be yourself, lighten up, and listen, listen, listen.
So take a deep breathe and get out there!