Preparing, being a good listener and staying up to date with key events are just some of the best ways to build professional relationships. A guide from Chris Meredith, CEO – LondonOffices.com.
It’s important to understand that networking isn’t about getting as many business cards or handshakes as possible, but about establishing genuine, professional relationships with others. Make the most of social media and your LinkedIn profile, being positive and refusing to push your own agenda. It’s incredibly important to follow up and connect with contacts after networking with them.
Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and many people often try to avoid it at times. But on a professional level it’s very important for you to do it. You can end up meeting great contacts that you could be useful to you in your career. Regardless of whether you are confident or introverted, there’s always things you can do to improve your networking skills and build better relationships.”
Top tips on how to build contacts through networking
Always prepare before you go in to avoid awkward silences when in conversation with someone. This will also help you feel more relaxed. If you find yourself in one of these situations, simply ask one of the questions you prepared beforehand.
Be a good listener
It’s important to be engaging when talking to others. Listen to the other persons needs and concerns and (if you can) offer solutions to these. If someone tells you a detail about their family or an interest, take note of it. These small pieces of information come in handy if you ever meet again.
Your attitude and the way you handle yourself always needs to be positive. Smiling and giving off a warm aura will make people want to approach and talk to you when networking.
Make the most of social media
Social media is a great way to network at home. Having a LinkedIn profile is especially important for networking as it can be used post-event as well. Always make sure you keep your profile up to date and take time to connect online with relevant people.
Have quality conversations
Quality is always more important than quantity when networking. Networking isn’t about frantically running around trying to get as many contacts as possible. It’s about building a good working relationship with someone. To get a solid footing, it takes communication and patience.
Don’t push your own agenda
We all want to succeed in this world, but sometimes if you push your own agenda too much, it can seem like a one-way conversation. This can put networkers off having a professional relationship with you. Always make sure you treat other networkers with respect and have a genuine curiosity about who they are.
Stay up to date with key events
It’s important to keep on top of the networking events in your area. Social media is a great way to keep on track with this. Regularly do your research into what’s going on in your area and always take up the chance to do some networking.
Get over shyness
Always introduce yourself with a confident handshake and always make strong eye contact with other individuals. If you’re not sure how to introduce yourself, just keep it simple. A “Hey, how are you, my name’s…” always works.
Have a great business card
Business cards can really help when networking. It’s important to have one that’s memorable to the person receiving it, although make sure its memorable for all the right reasons.
You don’t need to go overboard with the design, but make sure you put some time into thinking about the style and the colours used. It needs to fully represent your company and the logo of your company needs to be clearly visible.
Follow up conversations
It’s always important to follow up with people you have spent time networking with and this doesn’t just mean sending an email through. If you see on social media is their birthday, wish them well. And if you see something that could match their interests, tag them in the post. The more you keep in touch with them, the better it will be next time you see them.