If increasing your inner circle is a goal for the next year, you might want to learn more about successful networking. Networking is more than just attending periodic events and collecting business cards. It involves strategy, purpose and relationship building.
Create a Strategy for Successful Networking
Before you attend a networking event, have a plan. If possible, obtain a list of attendees so that you can determine the one or two people you absolutely want to meet.
Keep in mind that successful networking involves what you can do for others, not just what you will gain. Therefore, be prepared to offer ways you can help those you meet.
If you are uncomfortable meeting new people, prepare your opening question. By asking a question, you are inviting the other person to do the talking. This will help calm your nerves and also help you learn more about them.
Remember, networking isn’t a contest to see who gathers the most business cards, but an opportunity to meet and connect with those whom y0u can help and who might help you in the future.
Purpose of Successful Networking
The purpose of successful networking is about making connections and that involves asking questions and active listening. Make eye contact and use the person’s name early in your conversation. This will help make them feel at ease and also will help you remember their name.
Ask them to share what type of client they are looking for. The answer to this question can help you think of someone you might suggest they meet. Offer to introduce them, either in person or via email.
Ask them about a current project they are focused on. This will help you gain a better understanding of who they help and how they help them.
Successful Networking with Relationship Building
As you are talking with the people you meet at an event, ask them if you may contact them at a later date. Ask if they have a communication preference; email, phone calls, texts, etc. Ask if they are on LinkedIn and offer to send them an invitation to connect.
However, you determine you will follow-up, make sure that you take action. If you talked about someone you believe they should meet, send a follow-up email with that person’s contact information.
Offer to meet for a coffee at a later date so that you can learn more about each other’s businesses. This is a great way to build on the relationship.
Remember that before you can ask for a favor, an introduction or an opportunity to pitch your business, they must first get to know you. People do business with those they like and trust and that level of trust is difficult to expect from an initial meeting.
Back to You
Successful networking takes practice. Make note of what works for you and incorporate that into your next event. Interested in more information? Check out our NEW eCourse from Tech Savvy Women, How Successful Women Network.
- The Power of Women Together
- Investing in Your Network
- How Ready is Your Business Network?
- The Formula for a Winning Value Statement
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
Don’t miss our online resources library for eCourses, online discussions, downloads, retreats and tools for professional women. Learn more here.