How to Network

Networking is your net worth. In this industry, who you know is more important than ever. Read on to find out how to network like a pro and build relationships that last.

If you came here for relationship advice, unfortunately, I’m not going to be dispensing romantic relationship advice. However, I am going to give you some pointers for establishing and building another kind of relationship which is also very important: a business relationship. Rather than dating, we will go over Networking as it is the key to unlocking new business opportunities and is essential for career and personal development.

Dating is more than dishing cheesy pick-up-line-pizzas and collecting phone numbers just like networking is more than small talk, exchanging quick handshakes and moving to the next person. These interactions are shallow and rarely useful . I understand… Not everyone can be an eloquent charmer on the spot. Whether you’re shy or outgoing these tips are going to improve your networking abilities and help you feel more comfortable and prepared on the playing field.


What is Networking?

So what is networking anyways? Networking is simply relationship building. It is leveraging your business connections by building a portfolio of people who care about what you care about. It starts with a simple dialogue and ends with an exciting new connection. These connections, when properly tended to, then become opportunities for business growth. “Your network is your net worth” and when you think of it like that, you realize just how valuable it is.


Goal Setting to Overcome Networking Anxiety

Wipe those sweaty palms and don’t hyperventilate just yet! It’s obvious outgoing people generally thrive at networking events, but what about the shy guy? Well hey, we are all shy at the beginning and you are probably not the only nervous person in the room. So don’t overthink it! Be yourself, be personable and approachable, and put yourself out there! Be business driven, but have fun!

Set some goals for yourself to help you get out of your shell. Some examples could be:

  1. If possible, do your research and try to identify 5 people that are going to the same event and make it a point to introduce yourself to them. These can be people in your same niche, but don’t limit yourself! Networking with people outside of your industry could present surprising opportunities for collaboration or knowledge gained!
  2. Introduce yourself to at least 3 new people each day of the event. People appreciate you walking up to them and starting a conversation. After all, that’s what you are all there for!
  3. When you think you’re ready to leave, challenge yourself to stay 15 more minutes and chat with one more person. Continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone and see what you can accomplish!
As the saying goes, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Set these goals or similar goals for yourself, and don’t leave until you reach them. You will feel accomplished and it will get easier each time you do it!

Ask Questions! 

Now that you are talking to people, you’re probably wondering what in the world you should even say. Well a big tip here is to be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The most useful thing you can do is to learn something new. Here are some natural “pick-up lines” you can use to get the conversation ball rolling:

  • “What brings you to this event?”
  • “Which speaker at this event has been most valuable for you?”
  • “How did you get started in your industry?”

Go beyond asking people simply what they do and ask them why they do it. Also, don’t be afraid to insert yourself into a conversation that has already started. Simply ask if you can join. You’ll be surprised by how welcoming people are. 

Quality Connections

This brings us to quality over quantity! Starting off with small talk is okay but don’t forget that you are there to achieve something for your business. Chatting about the weather, shaking hands, collecting a business card and adding it to your “I’m never gonna call this guy” pile is a waste of not only your time and efforts, but others as well. You should not measure your networking success by the amount of business cards you collect and you definitely shouldn’t mistake a card for a connection. Aim to spend at least a few minutes with each person and only invest in the interactions that interest you. If this person does not interest you, that’s okay! Don’t force the connection. Politely thank that person for their time and move on. If you do see a future with that person, get that business card! TIP: Its okay to bring a pen and a pad of paper to jot down notes on who you spoke to and what you spoke about. This will be useful after the event when you follow up with your connections.

The Follow Up

That’s right, its time to follow up and try to get that “first date”! Don’t tell them you will talk “soon”. Be intentional, tell them you will talk “this week” and then do that. Not only is following up easy but it’s a good business move. The week following your event, set aside a couple hours to shoot off some emails to your connections. Remember, you were only accepting cards from people that actually interested you, so this should be easy and exciting! Your messages should remind them who you are, thank them again for their time and tell them why you’re excited to have made their acquaintance. Follow up with some thoughts or ideas you have for working with them in the future. Just like romantic relationships, the most effective business relationships are long term so you should be proactive and capitalize on the momentum you have already created.

Voila! You have successfully gotten through your networking event! You stepped outside of your comfort zone, met new people, made new connections, collected valuable information, and sealed the deal with a new business venture. You’re only going to get better from here. Wisely, thoughtfully, and carefully continue to build your social network. Tend to it, watch it grow, and reap the benefits of well-developed social skills to advance your business. Meaningful interactions with the right people, are an invaluable investment in the growth of your business and your interpersonal self. Basically, love your networking, appreciate your networking, and tell her she’s pretty every day.

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