Don’t waste networking opportunities!
Getting ahead of your competition is important when you start a business, especially if your business has a lot of competition. People and connections can be the basis that help you get ahead so make sure you know what to do when you are faced with networking
For startups and young entrepreneurs, attending business events and exhibitions can be great for your business if you take advantage of the opportunity. You need to make as many contacts as possible throughout your career as you will never know who could help you when you need them and networking is a great way to access otherwise inaccessible people. Most successful business are built on referrals and networking drives word of mouth recommendations.
Many people talk to other likeminded people but may not make that lasting impression. Networking is about standing out and selling YOU in a way that other people may not. You must be remembered by the right people and offer something that no one else can. This could be as simple as remembering the person’s name or following up your conversation with a LinkedIn invitation. Do something to make the person think about you a second time. This could be great for your business – you could gain a partner, a customer, an investor or find an alternative platform to promote your company that you never thought was possible.
Use these 10 points to engage and network with likeminded individuals no matter where you are!
1. LEND AN EAR
You must listen to what the other person has to say. Let the other person talk first. If they believe you are truly interested in what they are saying, they will engage with you and keep you in mind. Ask open-ended questions relating to what they have just said in a bid to prompt them into further conversation.
2. CONFIDENCE IS GOLD
Approach them and appear confident, interesting and make a strong and memorable first impression by shaking their hand with a strong confident grip (but not so hard, it makes them grimace). This will help you to build your own self-esteem and boost your image in the eyes of the person you are talking too.
3. DO NOT FORGET
How do you remember everyone you speak to? You can make it easier on yourself by referring back to what the person does and how they could be significant to your business. Even though you make a mental note of the person, be sure you take note of their name or email address along with their company in a diary, in your phone or the old tried and true way of getting a business card. Remember, your new contact could hold the key to a new campaign or deal.
4. MAKE THEM LAUGH – IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT BUSINESS
“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
If you find you have little in common or are stuck for conversation, a funny, memorable, and appropriate story will stick in people’s minds. Make sure it’s short enough to keep their attention, but long enough to fuel conversation and interaction afterwards.
5. A HAPPY FACE IS AN APPROACHABLE FACE
Smile and make eye contact. If you approach someone and you are looking over his or her head you will appear disinterested. Make sure you smile and look directly into their eyes when necessary. Be careful, staring could be a little scary…
6. REPEAT THEIR NAME
When someone first introduces themselves repeat their name. For instance, “Hello I am Tom, nice to meet you,” and you answer, “Hi, Tom, lovely to meet you.” You will have a better chance of remembering their name if you say it immediately after they introduce themselves. Introducing them to others around you is another great way to remember their name.
7. DO YOU PLAY GOLF? I LOVE GOLF!
If you share an interest with the person you’ve hit gold. Golfing? Tennis? Any slight similar interest? Use it! Even if you know one fact about something they are interested in, share it. Take the time to read up on current news and events so that you can add something to conversations.
8. COMPLIMENT THEM
People love compliments. If they are wearing a nice tie pin, or have an interesting hairstyle, compliment them. However, don’t overdo it, subtle appropriate compliments work best.
9. SELL YOURSELF
It’s not all about them. Make sure they know what you do best. They may need your help in the future and if you pinpoint exactly how you could be an asset to them or their company, you may receive a phone call down the line.
10. CONNECT WITH THEM
LinkedIn is a platform you MUST use. It is a haven for networking and connecting with people. Find the person on LinkedIn after you talk to them to stay connected and up to date with what they are working on and vice versa. If you do not have a LinkedIn page, get one, it could be the key to successful networking in the future!