We have all heard that networking is important but most of us would rather not do it. Here are 10 easy things to make networking easier
- Attend conferences and meetings that really interest you. This way you’re more likely to interact with people who have similar interests which will make it easier to talk to people.
- Organize your thoughts first. How will you answer questions about your interests? What specific talents, skills, and connections can you bring to the table? Practice saying those things out loud.
- Help others. Once you listen to what others have to say, you may begin to see how someone you know may be able to help that person. Be a connector!
- Follow up and follow through. Do what you said you would do; if you told someone you would be in touch, do it. If you said you would introduce people, do it. Send people you meet LinkedIn connection requests (with a customized invite, of course).
- Be approachable. Smile and be pleasant. To everyone. Enough said.
- Listen more than you talk. Everyone likes to be listened to. Listen actively, while looking at the person talking and not over their shoulder. Ask questions. Put your phone away.
- Always have business cards. If your organization won’t give them to you for free, buy them yourself—they’re not expensive. If you meet someone, offer your card and tell them that they are welcome to follow up. You’re likely to get one in return. Follow up on LinkedIn.
- Use people’s names. When you meet them, as you are separating, and throughout the conversation as appropriate. This helps make your connection more personal and you’re more likely to remember them if you run into them again.
- Network in different ways. These include casual contacts at official network events, professional associations, and online networks. Each serve their purpose and you’ll be more effective (and get to know more people) if you explore different networking venues. Be visible.
- If you’re still not sure, check out these resources (and of course, there are many more available as well): How to Work a Room, Susan RoAne; Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi, and Networking Like a Pro, Dr. Ivan Misner.
BONUS: Networking doesn’t have to be a special event. Any conversation you have has the potential to be a networking opportunity! Its about establishing and maintaining connections with people, not just meeting them.