Become a Professional at Networking

When we attend Networking events, we see the “regulars” and we see new faces we have yet to meet. We tend to gravitate toward the people we know because that’s what is familiar. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. It’s important to understand that talking to the same people every time or simply exchanging business cards at networking events won’t cut it when building strong relationships. If you want to make the most of these valuable events you need to be proactive in fostering connections and cultivating genuine relationships. Follow these 5 tips to become a networking professional!

1. Make the conversation about them:
When engaging in conversation, it’s important to show genuine interest in their experiences and goals.  You can ask open-ended questions about their early career experiences and how they got to their current role. This will provide insight into their motivations and interests. You can also inquire about the projects and initiatives they are currently working on, as well as their short- and long-term goals. By discussing the challenges they face and the opportunities on the horizon, you can offer relevant advice or connections that could help them achieve their goals. This kind of engagement can help build trust and rapport in your relationships.

2. Prioritize listening over talking during networking interactions:
It is important to recognize the natural inclination to talk about oneself and actively work to resist it. Instead, when someone is speaking, give them your undivided attention, avoid interrupting, and refrain from steering the conversation back to yourself. Demonstrate genuine care by asking thoughtful follow-up questions that show your understanding and interest in what was said. This will make people feel truly heard and valued.

3. Maintain professionalism and avoid assumptions about personal preferences:
Be polite and conservative when communicating. Avoid assumptions and controversial remarks. Keep the conversation professional by focusing on relevant topics to prevent offense. 

4. Be personable by asking and remembering names:
 Make a point to use someone’s name when you greet them and repeat it later.  Using someone’s name makes them feel recognized as an individual. Make sure to use their name again when saying goodbye.

5. Follow up:
When you meet someone new, it’s important to follow up with them via email or LinkedIn message within a week. You can share a relevant article or resource that relates to a topic you discussed with them during your meeting. Make sure to check in periodically with personalized notes to strengthen your relationship. This approach will demonstrate your sincere interest in building a relationship rather than just networking once. Consistently following up with someone shows persistence and can help you build strong professional bonds that will be beneficial in the long run.

Great networking is not about you, but about them. Apply these tips to become a pro networker who builds lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Your contacts will remember and reward your sincere interest in their perspectives.

If you are looking for a great local networking organization, check out the Sunrise Networking Group. For more information, click here.

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