If you’re in the professional world, whether you’re living the cube life or an entrepreneur, building your brand is make or break. Being able to build your personal brand by sharing yourself with others is the key to success— after all, they say it’s all about who you know, not what you know. Getting in a room and conveying your brand and connecting with others properly can certainly help you surge ahead personally and professionally.
However, we know networking with strangers can be tough, so I have a few notes to share with you. You can use these tips in business events or happy hours, so get ready!
1. The first key to networking is to make sure that people are connecting your name with your face. Make sure that you are wearing your name tag, or you’re introducing yourself clearly when you meet a new person. Also make sure that your business cards are in an easily accessible spot. This will ensure that when it’s time to leave a person with your card, you aren’t fumbling around awkwardly. Be prepared to make a lasting impression.
2. Remember to listen. When you’re connecting with others, remember how much people like to talk about themselves. Ask questions and remember to listen for the answers. Don’t try to dominate the conversation; instead, try to find commonalities and relate to the person you’re meeting. This will make it easier to remember someone later on. You may even make a friend!
3. Don’t be timid. Everyone is at an event to do the same thing: make connections. Don’t hesitate to reach out and shake a hand. Networking is about building relationships with others, so make an effort to break out of your box and connect with new people. It may be helpful to create a goal for yourself : “I will connect with x number of people at this event.”
4. Don’t be a card dealer or a salesman. When networking at an event, it can be really tempting to go around the room, passing out cards to everyone you see or leading a conversation with what you’re selling, but that is NOT how to make a meaningful connection. Only give out your card after you make a meaningful connection or after you offer or receive a lead. Cards are avenues of communication after an event. Make sure you give someone a reason to contact you or wait for a contact from you.
5. Have an elevator pitch ready. In networking, there’s likely going to be a question : “What do you do?” It only makes sense to have an answer ready. Make the elevator pitch a quick, 60 second introduction of who you are, what you do, and what a good lead/ connection for you is. This is a great thing to have ready. Remember, the key to networking is to be prepared to make connections!