Networking Isn’t a Four Letter Word.
Networking can be hard. When I was a kid, no one told me that I would grow up and have to go into these rooms with other people who would throw these little stiff pieces of paper at me and then expect me to call them. I missed out on the class where they told me that I would have to go to these events to have awkward moments in the name of becoming a better business person. Truthfully, maybe if I had been warned, I might not have gone. But, the other truth is that I probably wasn’t warned because most of my teachers didn’t like this “necessity” of business life either.
But, networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It’s got more than four letters. Networking can actually be a pleasant experience if you start by simply acting as if you are going to see some old friends.
Here are three tips that can help you bring a little joy and usefulness to the networking experience:
- Lead with your personality instead of your business card – There may actually be moments where you DON’T exchange a business card. Can you believe that? I have had them happen because the conversation was so great that we simply exchanged cell phone numbers. You have a great personality. Showcase it. Just look to see how you can brighten someone’s day with a great conversation. The business will happen later.
- Maintain great eye contact – I read a great book by Nicholas Boothman called “How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less” One of his tips was to enter the conversation with the intent to find out the eye color of the person with you were speaking. OK, I know that some of the events you have been to have dimly lit rooms…mood lighting. But, the idea is to focus on the person so that they are clear that you are listening. They want to know that you are “into” them. Then when it’s your turn to talk, they’ll look to do the same. But, you take the lead.
- Prepare a great question or two in advance – Seriously! Ditch the “so, what do you do” question. Everyone asks that. Stand out. What about, “What did you like most about the speaker this evening?” or “What was your most challenging work project this week?” or “What do you think about this mood lighting?”
Be different, be interesting, be interested, and your event will be over before you are even ready for it to end.
What other networking tips have worked great for you?
Robert Kennedy is a UMUC alumni, published author, and a Principal at RK3 Performance Coaching and Consulting. He is a people builder who works with business executives and employees to lead with purpose, perform with power. Learn more at www.robertkennedy3.com.