After having a few experiences which left me scratching my head about how in the world some people get ahead, I decided to delve into learning as much as I can about networking. Maybe I just wasn’t very good at it, so I needed to get to the bottom of things!
I’ll help you by pointing out some concrete things you can do to leave a strong, positive impression as well as some quick tips and things to keep in mind while you’re networking. I found that I have to remind myself about some of these before I go to events still. It might be helpful to save the list somewhere you can access quickly to give yourself a “boost” and a refresher before a professional networking event.
Professional Networking Tips for The Clueless
1. Keep your pose open and loose. Unclench your fists and keep arms loose at your sides or lightly touch fingertips with your hands in front of you.
2. Try to maintain at least 4 feet of personal space when talking to someone.
3. Prep appropriately for the networking. Do some up front research and find out what the atmosphere will be like so you can dress appropriately.
4. Ensure you’re not wearing too much perfume or cologne. While we’re talking of smell, keep a few breath mints on hand just in case.
5. Stay away from too much alcohol or skip drinking it entirely.
6. Focus on finding one or two people to connect with rather than trying to get as many connections as possible. You can scope the room and keep a lookout for one or two people to connect with. Introduce yourself to a person you see who’s standing alone.
7. If you’re trying to ease into a conversation, you can ask them how they heard of the event or what made them come to it.
8. Connect with the people you meet shortly after the event. Typically, you want to send a follow-up the next day telling them it was great meeting them.
9. You might have a career strategy already, which should include a networking strategy. Plan on connecting with the people in your network on a regular basis that makes sense to you. Prioritize some time in your schedule to strengthen your network relationships and revisit your networking strategy every 6 months or so to see what’s working and what isn’t.
10. When researching what professional networking event to attend, consider who will likely be attending and whether these people will be useful to have in your professional network.
11. Do some research on who you’re connecting with if you can. This will allow you to have better and more meaningful conversations.
12. Find something you and your contact have in common in order to build rapport.
13. Once you meet someone new, you can introduce them to other people at the event that you might know with an interesting fact about them. I.e. “Jane, meet Alice. Alice has her own software company, and guess what, she also went to Guatemala for vacation last year!”
14. Think about what you can offer your network and how you can help them. You might not see an opportunity for someone more senior than you, but you can be creative and offer help in unexpected places, like fundraising or giving them information they might not have access to. You can also connect people if you think they both have someone that can be valuable to the other. Always begin an interaction with the question of “What can I do for this person?”
15. If you’re looking to connect with someone in your network, consider inviting them to an event you’re planning on going on. This will give you a chance to connect with them on a deeper level and give you a chance to double task.
16. You can strengthen a connection by liking or retweeting on their Twitter profile, or on another social network they use. You can provide your own insight if they have a comment or question they pose on social media, and you can stay relevant and keep the connection fresh.
17. Make a habit of remembering people’s names. It makes people feel valuable when you remember and use their names in conversations.
Quick Twit Quips
- When networking, find something you and the person you’re talking to have in common. This can be as simple as having a pet at home.
- Quick Tip: Maintain at least 4 feet of personal space when you’re talking to someone new. Common courtesy makes for a happy networking opportunity.
- If you’re doing professional networking, have a strategy. Plan time into your schedule to contact someone from your network on a weekly basis.
- If you’re looking to connect with someone in your network, consider inviting them to an event you’re planning on going on. This will give you a chance to connect with them on a deeper level and give you a chance to double task.