Networking is about finding mutually beneficial relationships. Whether you are looking for a new job, investors, customers, mentors or new colleagues and peers with the same interest as you; you have to get out there and meet new people.
Here are my top 5 networking tips to help you make the right connections and make the most of them in 2020.
1. Choose your events wisely.
Many people attend as many events as possible to maximize exposure. I recommend being part of the trend toward smarter engagements. It’s not how much time you spend; it’s how you spend your time.
By being deliberate about which events you attend, you can:
- Connect with the right people
- Make deeper connections that are more long-term focused
- Get the most out of your time
To help you choose the best events to attend, make sure to identify what your intentions are. All events have multiple benefits but going after all of them equally can be exhausting and dilute your effectiveness. Mediocrity lies this way. Instead, think about the kinds of people you want to meet and engage with, not just for this one-time, but on an on-going basis. Then choose events and organizations accordingly.
2. Lose the pitch
Don’t sell. Start a conversation.
Use a networking event as an opportunity to learn about other businesses and people. Do so in an open way and this will stimulate creativity and connections that tend not to arise when people are focused solely on growing their business. Don’t be afraid of small talk. It allows us to get to know people in an acceptable and easy way.
At its simplest, networking is about asking people what they do and for whom they do it. Where your business may intersect with another is a gray area. Sometimes you will connect with the ideal business partner or associate. Other times, you will not be a good fit, at that time. But there’s no such thing as a bad connection. If you’ve been listening actively, you’ll be able to direct people toward exciting opportunities. If you’re helpful, open and engaging, people will be inclined and motivated to do the same for you
3. Give new contacts a personalized note on your business card.
At networking events, some people give out their cards as if there is a prize every time they reorder from the printer. Every time you give out a card, it should be meaningful. Writing a personalized note on your business card is a great way to make the recipient feel special and to have them remember you. Your listening skills will be particularly useful, as listening will have provided the insights and connections you need to make deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Put a note on the card they give to you to help you recall the conversation. When it’s time to follow up – or when they follow up with you– having a reminder of your conversation may be extremely helpful.
As a side note, don’t write on any business cards in Japan! This could be considered extremely rude!
4. Connect on LinkedIn.
While at an in-person networking event, you should be engaged and embrace human interaction. But make opportunities to connect with people online after the event.
People you’ve met in person are more likely to connect with you online and think of you favorably. After talking, ask them if they’d mind if you connected with them on LinkedIn. If they agree, include a personalized note to help them remember you. The standard text can come across as impersonal.
As the world’s largest professional network, connecting on LinkedIn can be great for business. You will receive access to their network of professionals, and you can serve people better by sharing your growing network with others.
5. Share your experience on social media.
A final tip for getting the most out of a networking event – and giving something back – is to share your experience publicly, such as on LinkedIn. As well as engaging with others at the event, take the time to take photos and compile a few quick notes. This can be useful for social media posts and will help refresh your memory about key elements.
Don’t overthink the process. Ask for permission where necessary. And have fun. Documenting a networking event is also a great way for introverts to maintain energy levels during high-impact social events. It also is a chance to make others who you met feel acknowledged if you are able to recognize them.
Don’t forget about this important point.
Lastly, this isn’t really a tip because it is actually the MOST important aspect of meeting new people and forging relationships – you must follow up with them on an ongoing basis. There doesn’t have to be a direct purpose to you reaching out, such as making a sale or closing a deal. Simply messaging or calling someone and saying that you are wondering how they are doing with is so important to building beneficial and lasting relationship.
You never really know when you meet someone how they could impact your life. But you do have to put the time and energy into following up with people. Networking may start at an event, but if you do it right, it is a journey that is rewarding for everyone. No business or persona can exist in isolation.
As a recruiter, I enjoy getting to meet new people, so this comes easy for me. If I can help you in any way, then let me know. By connecting with me, you will automatically expand your network. I hope you can make these networking tips work for you and develop stronger, deeper connections in 2020.