Networking is an invaluable business quality that can bring you closer to your goals and dreams. There are many ways of networking and many occasions where you can use it. In order to get the most out of your network, you have to network strategically, determined and personally.
In collaboration with network consultant Susie Lynge from the Network Academy we offer you 10 basic network tips you can use when attending conferences, events, seminars etc.
1. Make up your mind before you network
What would you like to achieve from networking? Specific contacts, information about specific topics, try to arrange a meeting or expand your network with a new contact?
2. Prepare a short elevator pitch in advance
Write a short elevator pitch (30-60 seconds), where you talk about who you are, where you're from, what you do and what you're concerned about. Preferably end the pitch with a question, such as “Where are you from?” or “What are you busy doing?”
3. Set a goal for how many you wish to network with
If you get nervous at the thought of networking with a lot of people, then set a realistic goal – and make an agreement with yourself or a colleague about reaching it. The goal could for instance be to network with three people you don't already know.
4. Be accessible
Make eye contact with people and smile at them. Eye contact signals “I have seen you” and breaks down the first barrier to a meeting. When we smile we show kindness and openness. Do NOT place yourself in a closed group of colleagues.
5. Ask open questions
Ask questions that cannot be answered with a mere yes or no. Ask open questions that begin with “What”, “Where”, “How”. For instance: “In companies such as you own, how do you…” or “What is your job about?”
6. Prepare how you would answer your own question
Be prepared to answer the same question you've just asked.
7. Give your business card
Have your business card ready, so you can offer it to those you talk to. For instance ask: “Do you want to exchange business cards?” It is an invitation to follow up and helps you remember who you have been talking to.
8. Invite others to join the conversation
Notice if anyone around you is standing by themselves and invite them to join your conversation. Introduce them to the topic of your conversation, so that they feel welcome and invite them to participate in the talk. For instance: “We were just talking about…”
9. Close the conversation elegantly
Avoid being “trapped” for a long time in a conversation that stops you from networking with other people. Close the conversation politely and elegantly. Acknowledge the other person for the interesting talk and say something like: “It was really nice to meet you – I just have to say hello to a few people” or perhaps ask or help: “Is there anyone here (at the conference) you think I should meet/talk to?”
10. Follow up
Within a week after the meeting you need to follow up on the contact via LinkedIn, a personal mail or a phone call. For instance by writing: “It was nice to meet you…”