Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, the prospect of having to create small talk with a bunch of strangers can be absolutely terrifying. However, with entrepreneurship and home businesses on the rise, it’s essential that you learn how to master the skill of networking, especially if you wish to stay at the forefront of your sector. Thankfully, you can seek comfort in the knowledge that many of your fellow networkers will be feeling just as anxious as you, and nerves can easily be disguised if you prepare properly beforehand. Interested to find out how? Follow these simple networking tips and you’ll soon become a master of networking.
It doesn’t matter if you’re shy and softly spoken or confident and bubbly with a head-turning laugh – be yourself! People will be able to tell that you are being real with them, and you’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin. Also, whatever you do, don’t approach people with an agenda to sell. If you come across as someone who just wants to make a profit, people will be turned off. Instead you need to first build genuine friendships with people by making natural conversation and enabling opportunities for them to share. Show people what you are all about without flaunting your business in their face and allow the business talk to happen naturally over time.
Show interest in others
One way to build genuine networks is by showing an interest in others. People love to talk about themselves, but you shouldn’t be the one waffling away. Instead, encourage others to share what they’re all about by asking them questions. You’ll learn far more about individuals this way and you’ll pick up on the places where you have common ground which will come in handy once your relationship has strengthened.
Smile and listen
Try not to switch off and let your mind wander every time someone begins telling you about themselves. Instead nod along and genuinely listen to what it is they have to say. If you come across as fake and disinterested, then they won’t want to connect or network with you in the future. You also never know who they know, and you want them to say positive things about you to whoever they go on to network with. Likewise, it’s important that you smile. A smile suggests that you’re a friendly, open person who can be trusted and people are more likely to approach you or feel comfortable chatting to you if you carry such a demeanour. Also, don’t forget to look people directly in the eye!
Do your homework
If you’re going to a networking event or meeting up with someone for coffee, try to do as much research as you can beforehand. Not in a creepy way, obviously, but in a way that helps prepare you with topics of conversation so that you can network over common ground. If you are a shy person, you may also find it helpful to prepare some questions in advance and come up with an interesting anecdote about yourself that you can share with others.
Consider what you can give back
Try to make the agenda all about the people you are meeting rather than yourself by listening to their situations and asking whether there is anything you could do to help. This will aid in strengthening that genuine relationship you are aiming for. People will also be touched by your kindness and they are more likely to recommend you as a contact to others in their network.
Have you got any networking tips? Let us know in the comments below.