Since buying and selling first originated as a concept networking has been a core ingredient when it comes to growth. Unfortunately, though, networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It is a harsh reality, but part of what makes everyone different. What’s even harsher is that networking has becoming increasingly necessary since it was first realised. It has now become a core piece of the success puzzle. This isn’t exactly great news if you are an introvert.
But introvert or extrovert, shy or loud – or however else you describe your personality – everyone can do with with improving their networking skills and improving how they go about building bigger and better professional relationships. That is part of business; there is always room for growth and betterment.
That is why we have taken the time to talk to some industry leaders, and top-tier networking consultants, and come up with a list of top tips and bits of advice to help even the most introverted of individuals improve their elbow-rubbing game.
1. Relax, There Is No Pressure
We aren’t going to school you on the different methods of relaxation of because everyone has a different approach, something unique that helps them find their zen. It could be meditation, it could be a walk, a certain song, a few deep breaths, a bit of liquid courage, having a business partner with you or any one of the infinite options. Whatever your tactics, make sure you use them. Being relaxed is one of the most effective networking tools because it is far easier to be yourself and have fun when you are cool, calm and collected. So find what it is that helps you relax and milk it for all it is worth.
2. Practise Makes Perfect
Opportunities to network constantly arise and that means there is constant opportunity to practise your networking skills. It is just a matter of overcoming any fear or awkwardness by striking up a conversation, which more often than not is about knowing how to start a conversation. It could be that you strike up a conversation with someone in your office that you’ve never spoken to before. Perhaps you could try talking to the person sat next to you on your commute home. Maybe even have a quick chat with the store assistant at the next shop you go into. Networking, in its most basic form, is having a conversation with someone you don’t know very well, and so the chance to practise is always there.
3. Google The People First
Most networking events are scheduled and so you have a solid idea of who is in attendance. More often than not, you may have connected with certain attendees ahead of time and made a plan to chat more at the event. As such, always do your Due Diligence. The reason for this is simple; the more you know about them the easier it will be to find common ground on which to build on. Not only that, you will also be able to prepare for the questions that come your way. Of course, a lot of these networking events you will be going in blind, in which case make a note of what you want to get out of your time there and use that as grounds for your preparation.
4. The Noteworthy Business Card
Your business card is going to be your best friend here, that little bit of you that sits in their wallet, that one that jumps out at all those you spoke with when they think about who they met at the event. You don’t have to go utterly wild, you just need to make sure you put a little bit of time, care and detail into your professional business card. Think of your business card as an ambassador for you and your company. That means thinking about the colour scheme, the logo, the font, the bold lettering, the front and the back. What design you go with is up to you, just make sure you realise how much power and sway a business card holds.
5. LinkedIn Keeps You Rolling
Social media has taken over the world somewhat, and the undisputed king of social media for business is LinkedIn. As such, make sure your profile is up to date, looks professional and sells who you are. The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can connect with people after you have met at an event because it isn’t a ‘friend’ you are making here, it is a connection and once connected you can keep your conversation going. It is one of the most effective ways to build a strong relationship with other professionals, a lot of which is to do with the ease in which you can stay in contact with one another.
6. Know How To Be A Conversationalist
There are two very simple ways to gain a reputation as a good conversationalist. The first is your ability to ask good questions, so make sure you prepare a bunch. Not only will this make you feel more relaxed and more prepared, it will also help you break any awkward silences and help you continue conversations naturally. The second rule to be a good conversationalist is being able to listen. Everyone likes to talk about themselves so if you can encourage the other person to keep talking then you will be remembered as a good conversationalist. The secret to this, though, is being interested, and we mean genuinely interested. People can tell when someone is switching off or just being polite for the sake of being polite. So engage with what is being said and you will be fine.