There’s networking – and then there’s networking properly. Sure, just turning up to an event will help your networking… maybe a little.
But to make the most of the opportunity, you have to apply some strategies. Just these seven key ones will take your networking ability to the next level.
1. Stop networking
That probably sounds counter-intuitive. But you need to stop networking and start connecting – change your mindset from just attending functions to meeting people and making those connections. Start being strategic. Research beforehand who is attending, know your objectives and don’t waste your time at the wrong event. Ask yourself: is this relevant to what I want to achieve this week, month or year?
2. Look the part
What you wear DOES make a difference – guys, wearing a tie looks better than no tie, ladies a pair of nice heels will always trump flats. We dress how we want to be ADDRESSED. So if you want to be perceived as stylish, professional, successful and in control — then dress to show you are.
3. Know when to leave
Never be the last to leave – staying back for a few drinks or to chat with people only goes to show you have nowhere else better to be. This is not the sign of a busy businessperson. Arrive early so you have ample time to work the room, but when formal proceedings are over schedule a departure time that will signal to people that you have somewhere else to be.
4. Don’t drink
Don’t consume alcohol – loose lips sink ships and wouldn’t you rather be listening to someone else’s gossip than blurting out your own and regretting it later?
5. Catch the eye, keep eye contact
Don’t speak with someone and at the same time be scanning the room for someone ‘better’ to speak with. Make eye contact and show a genuine interest in what they have to say. Remember, don’t despise small beginnings, you never know where that person will be in the future and they will always remember how you made them feel.
6. Get out of the rough
Exit a bad conversation quickly and smoothly. When you are in a conversation and they are selling to you, nagging you, talking banal rubbish or putting you down… it is your sign to leave. Simply done, excuse yourself politely to the bathroom or to get a drink and just don’t come back!
7. Follow up
Fortune is in the follow up – after all, why are you making the connection if you don’t follow it up? This can be done indirectly via social media (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter), via email, phone or better yet with a handwritten card if it is a more conservative contact.
Amanda Rose connects CEOs, directors, businesses, government and communities on mutually beneficial projects. She is the executive producer and host of The Business Woman radio program.