The word “networking,” for some people, is cringeworthy. Maybe you don’t really enjoy talking to people or maybe, just maybe, you aren’t good at communicating with others. You’ve been fine without attending sponsored happy hours so far, right? Don’t always depend on things to remain as such.
The most business eventually leads you to need to exercise the art of networking. Often times, whether we enjoy it or not, networking is an essential competency in business expansion and growth. Plugging your business in with someone else’s could be the match made in financial heaven! In fact, I met one of my biggest clients for our check writing online at an industry networking event.
There are ways for us introverts, however, to still thrive in networking scenarios. Just follow a few steps and relieve yourself from some of the painful anxiety and awkwardness.
Practice icebreakers: You don’t want to sound as though you are robotic, but there is nothing wrong with practicing and memorizing some good icebreakers for conversations. Networking and social interaction, much like anything, is a skill. Practicing can make you better. Having a few icebreakers in your pocket can also alleviate social anxiety because you may take comfort in the fact that you are prepared for those “awkward moments.”
Know someone: Once you feel comfortable with someone, don’t be afraid to ask them to introduce you to other people. Having an ally can help reduce the strain of making formal introductions by yourself. Often times, as an introvert, we fear those first moments of interaction. Once we are past that point, it all comes together.
Practice the art of listening: Not enjoying talking can actually play to your benefit, absurdly. Many people’s biggest complaint is that others just don’t listen to them. By being quiet and putting your listening ears on, you can network like a true champ that is a professional networking. Saying less and listening more is a recipe to the heart of your new colleague. With so many people who only enjoy talking about themselves, your introvert self can really stand out from the crowd!
Show up to events, but don’t stay too long: If you aren’t comfortable at networking events, lower your stress by telling yourself you are only going to stay for a short period of time. Prepare a list of basic networking questions.
Sometimes networking events are intimidating because it seems like they can last forever. Reduce your fears of being “stuck” at the event by having an “out.” Maybe you can say you have to meet a family member later, or you have to get up early the next day. White lies never hurt anyone, my friends….
Networking is a part of the business of being a better manager. But as mentioned above, it is also a skill that one can acquire. The networking basics saying, “practice makes perfect,” are the truest words you will ever hear!
Just How Important Is Networking For Business?
It’s really important. Whether you like it or not, you need to be networking. Are you a spaz just thinking about it? Well, relax, some find it to be intimidating, but if you do your homework and are true to yourself, you will be just fine. Let’s discuss some ways to improve upon your networking skills.
Follow-Up after the networking meetup
Don’t just introduce yourself and then forget about it. It is all in the follow-up. You want to follow-up with the person you met AND the person who introduced you. Show everyone involved that you are appreciative of them and their time by sending great email campaigns. Keep in mind everyone’s time is precious and you should be thankful. Don’t play “hard to get” because while you play, someone else will jump in and steal the deal.
Don’t Take Your Time
Dragging your feet is just not an option in today’s world. We have 24/7 access to our technologies and electronics. I am not saying to respond to somebody at midnight, but use the old 24-hour rule. Try to turn it around within 24 hours. Even if you simply say “Pleasure meeting you, looking forward to getting in touch very soon!”
Network AND Then Network
Let’s be honest, to every one person, you are in a way meeting their entire facebook world. Nobody is too small or even too big to network with. Keep an open mind and treat every single person with the utmost respect. And remember to network and then network again!
Network to Gain Trust, Don’t Lose It
Earn the trust of those you meet. Don’t just say what people want to hear and then never follow through. Actually, do it. For example: “I will send you a quick email tomorrow.” Tomorrow comes and goes. No email. Bad form, people, bad form. If you say you will send a quick email tomorrow, then send a quick email tomorrow! Jeez! This is how you gain trust.
Everyone MUST Network
Sorry guys and gals, but everyone needs to network. It is not a voluntary thing for certain people who seem like they like it. Networking is part of any business and every industry. It’s important and it is extremely helpful in the future.
It’s Not Only About YOU – It is All Business
Don’t only network for yourself. See what you can do to help the person(s) you are networking with. Perhaps they want to outsource printing and mailing? It’s not only about you! Plus it is so much more beneficial if it is a two-way street. Think about it, then you meet more and more people and network more and more. So don’t be selfish…open up and help others as well.