Last month, Insightpath CEO, Terry Nawrot and riplEFX CEO, Christine Smith discussed how to overcome fears about networking during their Networking Success Power Hour. While networking may not be everyone’s favorite activity, it is a necessity for people in any industry to forge strong connections in order to progress in their careers. Learn more about how you can master your next networking event with these six steps.
1. Think Positive
Networking all begins with your mindset. If you start anything with the expectation that you’re going to fail, you’ve already set yourself up for disaster. However, if you approach a networking event with a positive attitude, you’ll have a much more enjoyable time.
If networking is a chore for you, try to think on the positive side. You never know who you will meet or what experiences you might find. If networking is new to you, think about your first event as a learning opportunity. If you have a great conversation with someone, you can look forward to further strengthening that bond. If you fumble or miss your chance to meet an attendee, you know what to do in the future.
2. Set Personal Goals
Once you register for a networking event, it’s time to set a goal for yourself. What is it you hope to accomplish at this event? Whether it is talking to the speaker, looking for a new hire, or building awareness about a project, walk into the event with a goal to fulfill. Setting a goal will motivate you to do your best and ensure that you get the most out of the experience.
3. Do Your Homework
After you’ve set your goal, it’s time to do some research about the speakers and the industry. Learn about the speaker’s career and where they started. If you’re not as familiar with the chosen industry, do some reading about the latest trends and news. Arming yourself with this knowledge will better prepare you for the event and give you some potential conversation starters.
Take a look through the guest list to see if you recognize any of the attendees. Don’t be afraid to do a little digging into their LinkedIn profiles. Find if you have any connections to other attendees, whether it be through school, mutual connections, or past employment. Think about how your interests and goals might align with those of the people attending and how you can build meaningful relationships with them. Make note of any questions you have for specific people ahead of time.
Lastly, don’t forget to do some personal preparation. Make sure you have your elevator pitch ready to go and think about any answers to questions you may receive about yourself and your work.
4. It’s Not All About You
When you prepare for a networking event, it is easy to focus on what you want from others. Remember that when you start networking with someone, you have to build your relationship before you can cash in on the rewards. You can do this by asking people questions about their work, their goals, and their other interests. Show genuine interest and hopefully they will show you that same respect back.
Additionally, networking is not a one-way street; it’s important to give just as much as you get. Be as helpful as possible to others and your thoughtfulness will be remembered later.
5. Make Your Move
Once you’ve made a strong connection and you’re ready to take the next step, it’s time to make your ask. Whether you are looking for a new role, a mentor, or a new hire, be sure to ask for it clearly. You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask for it.
When stating your request, ensure it is mutually beneficial for both parties. This will frame your ask as something of value for the other person and will drive home the benefit they will get out of helping you. No matter what their response is, be respectful and gracious toward their decision.
6. Stay In Touch
Keep your networking connections warm by following up with them in a timely manner. During an event, be sure to get a business card or contact information from each person you met. After your conversation, write some notes in your phone or on a notepad so you can remember what you discussed when writing your follow ups. Including these personal details will strengthen your connection and help you stick out from the crowd.
Connecting on social media is another great way you can stay in touch with people in your industry. However, if you wish to connect with people on social platforms, it’s best practice to pick one channel and interact with them there. Don’t spam your new connection with a LinkedIn request, Facebook friend request, and a Twitter follow all in one night. Choose one channel and stick with it, usually LinkedIn, which most people use for business.
Networking is a great way to build meaningful relationships with new people in your industry. With these steps in mind, you’ll be well prepared for your next networking event. When you’re ready to get started with building a better networking process, contact us at Insightpath. Our partnership with riplEFX, a strategic prospecting system, allows you to manage networking meetings and will help you connect with your peers. Our joint platform allows users to track meeting engagements and easily share network connections with other members. Learn how you can get started with a free trial today.