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The art of networking can be mastered if you know how to start it.
Here are 5 simple and easy to use tips to use for any networking event. To me, these are valid and integral, whether you are new to networking or a seasoned networker.
Throughout this blog series, we’ll dive deep into all areas of networking to help you learn the art of networking, so that you are comfortable and confident. From there you’ll be able to make valuable connections and generate new and wonderful collaborations that will set you on the path to success.
The easiest way to make a connection is to smile. Most people are not very comfortable being in a room of strangers, so when you smile it helps put them at ease and makes you appear friendly and approachable.
Do Your Research
Sometimes events have a record of who is attending and may be in a position to share the name/company names in advance. Have a look and see if there is someone or people who you would like to connect with. Do some research in advance on social media channels such as Linkedin to get a better feel for what their interests are and this will help with the conversation on the day.
Ask Simple Questions
How are you? May I join you? What business are you in? Don’t overcomplicate the initial conversations you have with new contacts. Keep it simple and don’t overthink it. People generally welcome the interaction, particularly if they are feeling uncomfortable and a bit shy. And people always love talking about themselves, so the rest of the conversation will flow naturally from there.
Always come with pen and paper. I like to have a nice A5 notepad in my handbag and it comes with me everywhere. Why? Because I find inspiration everywhere. It might be a suggestion to connect with someone. It might be a good connection you met at a networking event and you have specific follow up to make. Make notes. Write it all down. It might be a word, a turn of phrase, a nugget of intelligence shared that sparks a thought, an opportunity or a new blog – as I say, inspiration is everywhere. It also shows the person that you are talking to that you are interested and fully engaged, so you’ll engender a better relationship for the future.
If you have made a good connection with someone at a networking event, don’t forget to follow up quickly. I usually send a direct email to say how I enjoyed the conversation or to follow up on something specific that was talked about. I also connect on LinkedIn and send a message, so I have a virtual record of where and when I met this new contact.