There really is an art to networking, and while you certainly get better at it over time, there are also a few tricks you can employ to improve your results. While you probably won’t get very far by standing in the corner at a networking event, you’ll also suffer if you go over-the-top and try to do too much. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when trying to establish meaningful connections:
If your main goal is to show up to an event and collect as many business cards as possible, you’re not going to get very far in the long run. The reason for this is that in order to achieve your goal, you will have to move about the room very quickly, without giving yourself a chance to make any first impressions on anyone. You will easily be forgotten, and although you will have their contact information, you won’t have a real basis to follow up with all those people whose business cards you collected. Additionally, without much one-on-one time with each person, you will likely forget the individuals you are there to meet as well, and therefore won’t get much out of the event.
Focus on Quality
Really try to relate to the person you are talking to, and make sure that you speak and listen. Don’t become distracted by other people in the room or think about the next person you are going to approach. Focus your attention on the person standing in front of you and try to make a real connection with them. That way, when you follow up, they will remember who you are and will be more open to continuing the conversation you started at the event.
Tell a Story
A good way to stick in people’s mind is to tell them your story. Think of things you can tell them that are relevant, but interesting as well. What makes you unique as a business professional and as a human being? How did you get to where you are, and what makes you tick? And make sure to listen to their stories as well. People love the chance to share something about themselves, and having this exchange will help establish rapport between the two of you. It will also give you something to reference and talk about later on when you get in contact again.
There are right ways and wrong ways to network. So even if professional socializing makes you feel as though you are out of your element, just try to stick to the proper etiquette and you’ll likely come out successful in the end.