How to become a confident networker
The thought of networking events can be overwhelming for some professionals and slightly unsettling, even for the most confident. Social media has impacted networking for those who are far more confident interacting online than meeting new people in a physical event environment. Hiding behind texts, email and social media will not allow you to build strong personal connections with people – shaking hands and eye contact are still essential when it comes to building relationships and networking.
1. Do some research and come prepared
Find out who’s attending and what they like. Individuals with common interests relate to each other and connect on a deeper level. Social media is a goldmine when it comes to finding information about people, so use it. It will help you with conversation starters.
2. It always starts with positive body language and a smile
Walk confidently into and around the room, shake hands and make eye contact. Be approachable by adopting simple gestures, such as smiling, when breaking the ice.
3. Put your phone down
It can be tempting to stand in a corner with your smartphone when feeling nervous at a networking event. Focusing all your attention on your phone gives the impression that you’re detached and not interested in other people at the event.
4. Always carry business cards with you
You never know who you may bump into when you head out for lunch or grab a quick coffee. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect and learn something new.
5. Ask insightful questions
Show that you care and have a sharp mind. Think of other ways to ask questions, so it doesn’t sound generic. Instead of “What do you do?” you could say “What do you enjoy most about your job?”
6. Stay on your contacts’ radar by following up post-event
Connect with people you’ve met in person by sending them a LinkedIn connection request or an email.
7. Bring positive vibes
Even if you had a rough day, this is not a good conversation starter. Use positive language as it shows that you have a good attitude and are willing to see the upside of any situation.
8. Make yourself interesting without showing-off
The best way to be remembered is to demonstrate how you can help and add value. As you’re conversing, listen to what your peers have to say and pick-up on opportunities to show that you’re knowledgeable.
Above all else remember to be yourself, be passionate and speak about topics that matter to you. Don’t be afraid to ask relevant questions and enjoy yourself. Do not put pressure on yourself when doing business networking. Try to make the most out of it by having fun with the people you meet as you will find it very rewarding.
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