With networking events being held all over the country this week in celebration of National Networking Week, it’s a great time to re-think and refresh your business networking strategy.
To help you prepare, here are five important things to remember while you work the room:
1. Don’t forget to bring business cards
While this may seem simple, it’s also a very easy mistake to make. There’s nothing worse than reaching for a business card only to realise you’ve left them at work. If you’ve made a great impression on a new contact, you want to be able to send them away with something tangible to remember you by.
2. Don’t hang out with your friends and colleagues all night
While there is nothing wrong with attending a networking event with people you know, make an effort to mix with new people so that you can extend your networking reach. Also, be careful of standing in large groups of colleagues, as you may risk scaring away or excluding potential new contacts.
3. Don’t constantly look for ‘new openings’ over people’s shoulders
When you’ve just met a new person, it’s important that you give them your complete attention. This means listening intently, maintaining the right amount of eye contact and engaging enough that you can ask thoughtful questions. So don’t spend the conversation looking for something “bigger or better” – make each conversation truly count and give people the respect they deserve.
4. Don’t talk about yourself the whole time
Networking is a two-way street. Of course, the people you meet will want to hear about you. But it’s very easy to ramble when you’re nervous. Focus on engaging in a balanced two-way conversation – make sure you give the other person a chance to speak about themselves. If they are shy or hesitant, make it easier by asking thoughtful questions.
5. Don’t just focus on your current work roles
When you’re trying to connect with somebody you’ve just met in a networking setting, talking about each of your jobs is easy, but this can exhaust quicker than you think – where to from there?
Forging a genuine, personal connection means asking those meaningful questions, like:
- What attracted you to this line of work?
- What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
- Are you planning any much-deserved holidays? If so, where to?
- If you could do any job in the world, what would you do and why?
- What kinds of projects would you love to work on in the future?
- What was your very first job?
- Can you give me any advice on…?
Obviously, this is just a small sample of the many hundreds of questions you could ask, but it gives you a good snapshot. The important thing to remember is that there is more to know than just “Where do you work?” and “What do you do?”.
If you’d like to learn more networking tips to help you prepare, you may also be interested in: