Networking is key to being successful in business, and it’s a major reason people join the Arlington Chamber and other professional groups.
But knowing and doing are not the same thing. For many, walking into a roomful of strangers and striking up conversations is a real challenge.
For others, networking means pitching their services and passing out business cards -- not getting to know new people, discovering shared interests, or finding ways to help one another.
Are you finding the right connections, establishing relationships that help build your business, and making the right networking choices? Here are five simple tips to keep in mind as you head to your next networking event:
1. Smile. It seems obvious, but when people get nervous, they can stiffen up and forget this simple rule to making friends and being approachable. Take a couple of deep breaths and remind yourself to smile before entering the room.
2. Make the first move. Everyone dreads standing alone in a crowd, and the best way to avoid it is to simply walk up to a group or individual and say, “Hi, may I join you?” It’s a networking event – that’s why you’re all there.
3. Keep it simple and light. Ask easy questions, listen to the answers and follow up. Avoid the temptation to talk about yourself too much – the best networkers know that people like to talk about themselves, and appreciate the person who shows interest in them.
4. No sales. You’re trying to establish relationships, not make a pitch. If specifically asked, have a brief description of what you do ready. By all means convey passion for your work, but keep it short and light.
5. Bring enough business cards, ask for theirs and follow up within 48 hours. Networking is just the start of the conversation; if you make a good connection, take this important next step and go from there.
“Rather than networking to directly benefit yourself (1.0) or a total stranger (2.0), the idea here is to network solely for the benefit of your best existing clients and colleagues,” saysDerek Coburn, featured speaker of the Chamber’s upcoming event, Networking 3.0 on Wednesday, May 4.
During this interactive workshop, you'll discover new strategies to increase your networking success. Attendees of the program will learn to:
· Become the ultimate connector and resource for your clients
·Identify and develop relationships with world-class professionals
· Enhance the value you deliver to your clients
·Position yourself for more quality introductions to ideal prospective clients
· And much more!
Derek will sign copies of his book Networking is Not Working after the program. You can also purchase a copy while registering for the Chamber seminar here.
Like so many worthwhile things in life, successful business networking requires stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s helpful to remember that everyone else is in the same boat; armed with a smile and some solid tips for success, you might even enjoy yourself!