How to use the power of networking sufficiently

If you’re uncomfortable with networking – don’t worry! There’s no such thing as a natural-born networker. Instead, good networking is the result of a set of skills that anyone can learn and improve on over time.

Read through our 7 best-practice advices on networking and always remember - the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it.

1) Watch your body language

You say a lot about yourself without even speaking, so review your posture to make sure you don’t look closed off or unintentionally aggressive. Uncross your arms, slow your breathing and smile. This will send the message that you’re open for conversations.

And don’t forget your surroundings. Don’t hide against the wall or choose to sit at an empty table or row of empty seats – you’ll miss out on the best opportunity to network!

2) Write your own story

You might only have one opportunity to talk about yourself and what you do, so when the time is right you want to make sure you’re ready. Well before the event, prepare an elevator pitch that describes who you are and what you do that you can deliver in less than 30 seconds. Make it easy to grasp: Focus less on how you will remember it and more on how easy it is for the other person to repeat. And then practice, practice, practice!

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3) Be in the moment

It’s always more comfortable to attend an event with friends, but if you stay with the same group of people, you’ll miss out on opportunities to build your network. So even if you know good friends or longtime coworkers will be attending as well, make a point to reach out to new colleagues and make new connections. And that can start before the event does.

Browse social media and forums relating to the event and start interacting with other attendees right away. Practice a short summary of yourself and your business to use when meeting new contacts. 

4) Challenge yourself

Set goals to get outside of your comfort zone one step at a time. Whether it’s to meet four new people at each event or to join five conversations, reaching small benchmarks like these can give your confidence a boost and help you surpass your goals.

But remember: It’s not a race, and the one with the most business cards at the end doesn’t win a prize. While setting goals can help you get started, it’s the quality of your connections that counts, not the quantity.

5) Ask better questions

Open up your questions to create a more interesting and meaningful conversation. Rather than asking “What do you do?”, ask if they have worked on anything exciting recently. Instead of asking “How are you?”, ask what they are most looking forward to for the rest of the day. And don’t miss the opportunity to expand your network – ask “Who is the most interesting person you have met here?”

6) Find out how to help

If you’ve been asking good questions and really listening, by now you know a lot about the other person, including their successes and challenges. Now you have the opportunity to show your value to your new contact, so find ways to help your contacts to make an impact. Something as simple as offering to make a helpful introduction goes a long way to creating the kind of positive impression that leads to long-term relationships. Remember, a little generosity goes a long way.

7) Don’t overthink it!

The most important strategy is also the easiest – if you just let go. At any networking event you’ll be surrounded by people just like you: People who are also feeling nervous about approaching a stranger. The more relaxed you are the more comfortable others will be to talk to you. Remember that fun is contagious and that everyone likes to be around someone who’s having a good time. So enjoy yourself!

Work on these networking skills anytime you meet new people, and by the time your next industry event starts – making new connections will be as easy as spending time with old friends.