Everyone knows that in business and in life, it’s more about who you know than what you know. The connections you make in your professional life are what open doors and get you to the next level. We all know we need to attend networking events, participate in mastermind groups, make phone calls, send emails and shake hands. However, there are a few secrets to effective networking that commonly get missed. Before your next networking event, make sure you’re paying attention to these fundamentals that could either make or break your networking game:
You’d be surprised at how many professionals walk into a networking event, meet-and-greet or another connection-focused endeavor without being prepared. Not only does this make you look unprofessional and unprepared to potential connections, but it can also decrease your confidence and your chances of making a powerful first impression. Some ways to prepare yourself for success when it comes to networking include:
- Be clear about your goals and intentions for networking. Are you trying to collect five business cards? Are you aiming to give out all of yours? Do you want to leave with a follow-up phone call scheduled? If you know who is going to be there, make a list of the people you want to speak with. Going in with a plan helps you stay focused and increases productivity.
- Do your research. Nothing is more embarrassing than meeting a keynote or notable figure at an event and not knowing who they are. Make sure you can identify the high-profile people at your event and learn a little about their history and contributions. This will make you look prepared and educated.
- Take care of details ahead of time. This means knowing where you’re going, what you are wearing, and any unexpected obstacle that could prevent you from being late or missing critical connections.
Pay Attention To Your Body Language
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, your body language at networking events tells people everything they need about approaching (or avoiding) you. Things like crossing your arms, standing against the wall, avoiding eye contact and the way you stand in a group can all send off vibes that you’re unapproachable or uninterested. Many introverts do these things unintentionally and often as a response to crowd-anxiety.
But introverts aren’t the only ones guilty of body language that sends off the wrong message. Dramatic hand gestures, an unnecessarily loud speaking voice, a defensive attitude, and offensive or inappropriate humor could also put people off from approaching you.
Keep your body language in check to maximize the connections you can make.
The Follow Up
Professional relationships are like flowers, the seeds are planted at the initial contact, but they won’t grow if you don’t tend to them. While meeting people at networking events is the first step, it’s all for nothing if you don’t follow up. Your work is not done when the networking event is over, in fact, it’s just getting started. Be intentional about setting a follow-up meeting or phone call before you go your separate ways, and then follow through with this commitment. Even if the connection doesn’t lead anywhere right now, your follow-through and persistence will give them a good impression of your work ethic.
Become A Networking Monster
Networking is one of the significant ways to grow your business. Even if you consider yourself a people-person and have no problem making friends with strangers, it’s important to remember the things you are doing and saying are always working towards presenting yourself in a light that is both personal and professional.
What is your next step in next level networking? If you’re not sure, check out our innovative Next Level: Mastermind Group where we discuss the power of effective networking, by networking!
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