by Kristina Gonzalez
Networking... it's not all about the free food and free booze. (Although those things might make it a bit easier.) Networking is about building and cultivating relationships.
And no matter who you are-- fresh out of college or mid 40's starting your own business-- it never hurts to network.
So, how do you make a networking event work for you?
1. Know Yourself, Know Your Worth
Figure out your strengths and skills so you can introduce yourself with confidence. Can you answer the questions, "So what do you do?" or "What do you want?"
2. Put In Work
For other people.
Yes, you’re reading that right.
Put in work for other people.
Imagine if everyone went to a networking event focused on who they could help, as opposed to who they can meet, everyone would be benefit. Nobody likes the person all about self gains.
Be the connector.
3. Talk Less, Listen More
Let's face it, everyone likes to talk about themselves.Be a better listener and ask more thoughtful questions.
Everyone wants to feel heard. Make it a point to be that person.
The traditional idea of a conversation is for one person to speak, then respond. Active listening requires more than a response and showing genuine interest goes a long, longggggg way.
4. Ditch Your Friends
Just this once... go solo. More often than not, you go with a friend and spend the whole time talking to someone you already know.
Networking events can be intimidating -- use the opportunity to branch out and meet new people. You don't know who they know! Their third cousin could be your next business partner.
5. Quality Over Quantity
Instead of trying to meet everyone in the room, focus on meaningful conversations with a few people rather than superficial ones with numerous people.
Make yourself memorable, not another name on a business card.
6. Follow-up Is Crucial
Keep the connection alive. Add them on Facebook or LinkedIn. Get in touch within 24 hours and always buy the coffee. Arrive early, be prepared, and research the connection to advance the conversation.
Whether you’re the shy guy or the outgoing socialite, networking is key to professional development.
Using these networking tips ensures you'll be meeting the next person who will lead you to your next opportunity.