6 Tips For Business Networking Success
It’s not what you know, as the old saying goes. It’s who you know. If you want to be successful in your career, it’s not enough to do good work at your nine to five job; you’ve also got to get out there and meet new people, cultivate strong relationships, and establish a vast personal network of contacts.
For some people, securing and keeping these relationships is second nature. They’re outgoing and always ready to extend a hand, lend an ear, and say something witty and relevant. However, many of us aren’t that extroverted, and establishing and maintaining business relationships is hard work. It just goes against our more introverted tendencies — it’s not what we’re naturally good at. We got into business because we have great ideas and unmatched skills, not because we love to talk shop with movers and shakers.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make building a professional network easier, even if you’re not a naturally outgoing person. Here are six tips for business networking success.
1. Go Where the People Are.
Social media is excellent for publicity and for creating a compelling online persona, but real networking just doesn’t get done via social networks. It’s still done the old fashioned way: face to face. Neal Goldman, Founder & Chairman of Relationship Science (RelSci), puts it this way: “Websites like LinkedIn and Facebook are good for keeping people on your radar and for keeping up with their professional details, but they’re just not good places for building strong relationships. To do that, you’ve got to get out there, actually shake hands with people, look them in the eye, and have a face-to-face conversation.” What does this mean for you? Mostly, it means joining professional societies and service clubs, looking for networking events near you, and then (and this is the key part) showing up. Better yet, it means showing up a few minutes early, before the crowd arrives and groups are formed. You’ll find it much easier to strike up a conversation with others who arrive early, and this can help build your confidence for the rest of the event.
2. Listen More than You Talk.
This is good advice for conversation in any relationship, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to build a professional network. It can be hard to listen so actively, especially if networking makes you nervous; you may feel like you’re there to tell others about yourself, and anxiety can keep you talking and talking. Try to remind yourself, though, that conversations aren’t a monologue. Slow down, stop talking, ask questions that allow that other person to speak, and then listen to what they have to say. Soon enough, you’ll be known as someone who’s genuinely interested in what others have to say and not as someone who won’t stop jabbering.
POST WRITTEN BY Julee Morrison, Huffington Post Contributor