Networking skills are becoming more and more valuable to have, both in your professional and personal life. Knowing the right people can make or break your career. What are strategies for effective networking?
The more professional connections you have, the more opportunities will open up to you. But not everyone knows where to find valuable business connections and how to engage with them. It is a good idea to work on and improve your interpersonal communication skills. Here are nine skills that can help you improve your networking efforts.
Personalize as Much as Possible
Whether you’re networking in person or online, It is crucial to personalize your approach. Using the person’s name is an absolute must. No one wants to feel like they just got a generic email that was also sent to a bunch of other people. Knowing personal details such as their name, company, and position will make them feel special.
If they feel like you want to reach out to them specifically and ask for their help, they will feel useful and more inclined to work with you. People are much more likely to do business with those they feel comfortable with, and personalization will help you build a feeling of familiarity and trust. This also works well for getting employees excited about work, personalize your conversation.
Speaking of getting more familiar, don’t be afraid to dig a bit deeper than someone’s work history. It’s completely acceptable to ask about someone’s interests and hobbies to help you find common ground and build a stronger connection.
Of course, you should steer away from highly personal topics. Keep in mind that you’re speaking to a complete stranger, so you don’t want to be too nosy and creepy. However, you can find out a lot without crossing the boundaries if you ask open-ended questions and let them share however much or little they feel comfortable.
Pay Attention to the Body Language
Whenever you’re having a conversation with someone during a networking event, make sure to pay attention to not only what they are saying but also how they are saying it. Listen to them carefully and observe their response, from the tone of their voice to their body language. This will allow you to gain insight into what they respond to positively and tweak your approach to fit exactly what they’re looking for.
Think about What You Can Offer
Effective communication start with listening to others and then thinking about what you can offer them. When networking, many people fall into the trap of thinking about what they can gain. However, it’s not only about what you can get but also about what you can give. Think of all the thinking you can bring to the table and come up with a way to present it to others.
If you want to spark their interest, they need to see you as a useful contact. Remember, you’re not the only one who’s trying to make valuable connections; everyone is looking to get something out of their networking efforts. That’s why it’s essential to always have something to offer.
Leave the Elevator Pitch to Salespeople
While elevator pitches can work wonders in sales and marketing pipeline situations, networking isn’t necessarily a good setting for selling yourself. You want to build authentic connections, not to squeeze in a pitch by all means necessary. There is the right time and place to sell yourself, but the initial networking attempt is not it. Go slow and try to find common ground and get to know your prospect a bit better before pitching them.
Keep it Brief
You don’t want to monopolize anyone’s time while networking. But, chances are, they are also trying to meet as many people as possible. The conversation is supposed to be a two-way street, so if you notice that the person at the other end is not engaged, simply move on. Your time is valuable, and so is theirs, so don’t waste it on conversations that are going nowhere.
Live events are not the only way to make business connections. By now, we have all learned how to make connections even when we can’t meet in person. After all, we live In a digital age, and having a solid presence on social media platforms is a must if you want to have a strong professional network.
LinkedIn is especially important as it focuses exclusively on work-related connections. It allows you to find and connect with other people in your industry, engage with them, exchange knowledge and advice, and build strong relationships and meaningful connections. Once you connect with the right people, you can even export LinkedIn contacts and use them to reach out to your connections on other platforms as well.
Always Take Notes
After you gather information about a new business contact, it’s always useful to write it down. It will help you personalize your approach the next time you meet them and appear much more genuine. This is not only important for face-to-face connections but online ones as well. If you’re trying to improve your networking efforts, chances are you have 500+ LinkedIn connections, and keeping track of all of them is not easy.
But, how to tag people on LinkedIn and add notes so you don’t forget crucial information about them? You can use eternal LinkedIn management tools to create custom categories, create tags, and add notes that will remind you about everything you need to know before you reach out to your connection again.
Don’t Be Impatient
Some of the strongest and most valuable connections you’ll make will take a lot of time to build. It’s not unusual to have to follow up multiple times before something meaningful happens. Try to keep the conversation moving and continually reach out in order to cultivate relationships that will last. It might take a lot of time and effort, but it will pay off in the long run.
If you want to expand your connection pool and improve your networking efforts, you sometimes have to step out of your comfort zone. Meeting new people can be challenging and exhausting, but networking will allow you to build valuable relationships necessary to accelerate your professional growth. Follow these strategies to make your networking efforts more effective.