How To Network Successfully - What To Do And What To Avoid
Here’s How To Network Without Being Creepy
Networking is one of the many skills every business owner should develop. It’s important to be able to network successfully, not only to acquire new clients but also to make valuable connections with people who might be able to help you down the line.
But there’s a line between forging new relationships and being a stalker.
In short: don’t be a creep!
Rather be tactful and strategic when trying to network successfully. With this in mind, always remember that first impressions count in all business interactions.
Connecting with your peers, or a potential mentor, is one thing, but doing so all the time can sometimes be overkill.
Nobody wants to come across as a creep, and that’s why we’ve dedicated today’s post especially to help you with this.
We want to help you build your networking skills but in such a way that you feel empowered, and not desperate to get to know people.
If you’re not a natural at networking, then you’ll need to commit to practising as it can take time and dedication.
But having good connections is absolutely priceless when it comes to business, so it will be worth the effort.
What is creepy networking?
There is a thin line between being conversational and being annoying. So, why do some people come across as needy and desperate? There are certain “red-flags” you’ll want to avoid if you want to become a master networker.
Tactics to avoid when networking:
No flirting and “hitting on” the next person
Network events and conferences are professional business gatherings. It would be very unprofessional to hit on the people at the event.
Keep flirtatious behaviour out of the equation as this is not only highly inappropriate but also counter to the exercise of networking.
The idea is to get to know people who can help your business, not your personal life.
Watch your alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol is the best way to destroy your reputation in one evening.
While you might feel pressured to keep up with how your companions are drinking, becoming drunk at a professional event is an experience you really don’t want to have.
Rather don’t drink alcohol at all than risk making a fool of yourself at an event.
Avoid hot-button topics
Whether you’re in the board room, at a conference or at any professional event, we recommend staying away from certain topics.
Debating highly-charged topics such as religion, sexual orientation, politics and the like will likely cast you in an unfavourable light.
Stay in your bubble
Don’t be a weirdo by invading someone else’s personal space. This applies to when you are mingling and also when standing in a queue (for instance, at a buffet).
Don’t encroach on other people’s invisible bubble or stand so close to them that you touch them.
Keep your manners dignified — remember that you’re there to learn and possibly strengthen your business.
This could be your opportunity to get new prospectives and expand your future revenue through more customers or clients.
How to network successfully
Now that we’ve covered what you should not do when networking, here are a few tips on what works. For more examples, check out this article here.
Perfect your elevator pitch
It’s obvious that to help people get to know you and your business brand, you should try to establish a genuine relationship. You can do this by compiling your elevator pitch.
Briefly tell them who you are, your career history, your strengths, goals and what your outlook of the future is.
This is something you want to take the time to craft properly because the goal is to state how you improve people’s lives, not that you’re trying to make a sale.
Opening up to potential prospects always helps to set the first foundations of trust between them and your brand.
Always be engaging
Do you know those awkward silences that sometimes come up during a conversation? Well, when networking, try to avoid those. Instead, show that you are confident and know your niche market inside out.
The quickest solution to a stalling conversation? Rope someone else in or ask the person about themselves (most people enjoy talking about themselves).
Don’t just whip out your business card
We get that you are trying to connect with loads of people, but nothing is more off-putting than saying hi to a stranger and that person immediately handing you their business card.
Also, trying to sell to someone you’ve just met is just wrong. It’s rude and presumptuous so just don’t do it.
Establish a relationship
Once the “small talk” is out the way, work on a deeper business relationship. This is done by asking your peers and new connections to connect with you either on regular video calls or meetings.
You can also connect online through social media, blogs and more.
You want to establish genuine trust and the best way to do this is to see how you can help others.
You can return the favour by following and interacting with them online as well. Engagement and trust are two very important practices in any business. But building strong relationships in business should never be taken for granted.
Keep the routine going
How many times during your digital business journey have you heard the term “consistency?”
That’s because this is the very ingredient that builds towards success in your market. Remember with so many people competing for the same thing, consistency becomes a valuable commodity.
Do this even when it takes a bit more effort and energy to complete.
Do regular follow-ups
Once you’ve sealed the relationship with your new clients or business connections, don’t forget to follow up.
You need to nurture the relationship and be there to help your associates. In business, a lot can be said for giving and taking — and it will help if you see networking as forming partnerships that can help businesses (yours and theirs) grow.
What are the benefits of being able to network successfully?
- You get to build relationships
- Get connected with suppliers, peers and mentors
- Save on certain services and products because of your relationship
- Grow your business and your audience
- Objective feedback, helpful criticism
- It sparks new ideas
- Improved business strategy
- It helps to build your confidence
- Networking opens more doors of opportunity
- Ability to promote your business and brand
The takeaway on how to network successfully
Networking is key to establishing mutually beneficial business relationships. It’s how you find like-minded peers who can support you on your journey, and it’s also a way to increase your exposure to new things (being flexible and able to adapt to change is a vital business skill).
As much as you want to get to know everybody, remember to prioritize quality over quantity.
It’s better to build 10 solid new relationships with people who can propel your business forward, than “connect” with 10000 random people (via Facebook, Linkedin etc) who don’t know you at all, or what you do.
If you’re new to the world of networking we have one last piece of advice: keep doing it, because it gets easier the more you practise.
Are you a successful networker? What’s your trick?
Originally published at https://blog.bigdomino.co.za on February 10, 2020.