There’s so much more to networking than simply showing face. You went to the event, spoke to a few people, and even handed out a few business cards, now what? Networking is defined as the exchange or sharing of information and or experiences for professional or social purposes. However, in order to ensure we reap the most out of the networking seed sowed, we must be mindful, and in some ways even strategic, with our level of engagement and we must maintain contact! Think back on the last time you received a business card. Did you follow up with that individual? Did you thank him or her for their time and further inquire on what you two spoke about? Networking comes and can be executed in various forms.
Check out these tips to get the most out of networking opportunities. Furthermore, feel free drop a comment and share what networking strategies have worked for you.
1. Body language.
It matters. It’s a pretty big deal.
- Be mindful of your posture, movement, and facial expressions.
- Slight tip & or nod your head up and down to show that you are engaged and he or she has your full attention.
- Make eye contact!
- Remember, 3-5 seconds of eye contact then a quick look away rule of thumb. Avoid the awkward “staring into your soul” contact.
No, but really. Listen.
- Take in the details. Never interrupt the guest. Then ask questions.
- Networking with a stranger doesn’t always have to be a “selling myself” conversation. Sometimes we get so consumed with responding or getting that perfect answer out we don’t take everything in & fully listen.
Find a balance!
3. Ask questions.
No, but really. ASK questions.
- Once the initial generic career related questions are covered, ask questions that will lead to knowing this individual on a deeper level.
- Doing so leads to the possibility of discussing something that you two may relate on, which will make the conversation stand out and you being more memorable.
4. Research & Prepare.
- Find out what businesses are sponsoring any part of the conference and get familiar with the key people.
- I recommend having a list of at least 10 questions prepared or memorized.
- Questions should be based on the theme of the event and the attending speakers.
5. Don’t gravitate towards people you may have come with or may already know.
6. Follow Up & Follow through.
- Always follow up after the initial conversation, respectfully no later than 48 hours.
- Whether this be a quick email or Linkedin connect AND message thanking him or her for their time. Be sure to not only thank them for their time but to reflect on at least two points from the conversation.
7. Keep in touch!
- Follow up after the follow up! Request an info session or to be put in contact with a friend or colleague.
- Did you attend a meeting or training that reminded you of the conversation held with this person? Shoot him or her an email and tell them.
8. Business cards
- Always keep a few personalized business cards on you.
- Be sure to not only hand them out but take one from each person you speak to OR would like to speak to in the near future.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know.” Correct! “Hey how are you?” or “Hope all is well” messages from time to time go a long way. Therefore, check in with people from time to time to maintain a connection. No one wants to hear you need a favor or job after years without contact.
The tips are endless. Be confident and bold when seeking out new connections and opportunities. Attend workshops, trainings open to the public, professional mingling events, and or community meetups with people who share a common interest as you. Check out this link for even more useful tips when networking.