Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s not what you know it’s who you know”? While we may be in an era where technology has made it easier to connect with people on social media platforms, face-to-face networking is still a powerful relationship building tool. Most people will base their decision to work with people whom they connect with in person. You may think that networking events are a complete waste of time because it’s an opportunity to “socialize”, however it is truly a way to make connections.
In business, everything is about building relationships. It takes time to cultivate these relationships but the end result is priceless. It can lead to an internship, job promotion or your first client as an entrepreneur. Here are a few helpful networking tips:
Attend a Networking Event:
What type of networking event should I attend? One that consists of individuals/companies whom you want to work with. This depends on the industry you’re in. Find out what companies are hosting the event and which ones will be in attendance. If you’ve been eyeing a company that you want to work with who will be at the networking event, that would be the perfect opportunity to attend. Instead of going into the event with the idea of making 20 contacts and handing out 20 business cards, try making at least one connection. It’ll take the unnecessary pressure off of you and you’ll feel a little more relaxed when presenting yourself.
Be your authentic self:
When attending networking events, take your “salesman/woman” hat off, and step into your authentic self. Allow people to get to know your personality! Introduce yourself, ask about personal interests rather than going straight into discussions about business. This let’s your potential connection know that you’re personable, easy to talk to, and friendly which are great characteristic traits to possess, particularly when making connections.
Networking Event Etiquette:
Before you take that person’s business card and place their names on a mailing list, follow up with them via email just to reintroduce yourself. Ask them if it’s ok to add them to the mailing list and why it’s beneficial for them to be added. Most people hate being added to a mailing list without their permission. Just because you received their business card doesn’t mean they’ve given you permission to place them on a mailing list. The sole purpose of attending the networking event is to create authentic, professional relationships. If you wish to build a marketing email list, there are a number of companies you can utilize for this type of service.
If Networking events aren’t your “thing” try to opt for charity events, local association luncheons, brunches and or dinners, seminars and workshops. Your local coffee shop is a great way to meet people as well! Remember, anywhere you go can be considered an opportunity to network. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a networking event setting.
Don’t forget to have fun, bring a stack of business cards and make great connections!