How to Network Like a Pro: 17 Actionable Tips To Crush at Networking
I thought of professional networking as an impossible to learn soft skill. It falls into the group of “winging-it” in my world.
Then, I started reading about some brilliant tactics. They went beyond showing that you’re interested in what the other person has to say.
I always thought that kind of went with the territory and it was common sense. Well, duh, of course you should listen to the person and show genuine interest!
And then I started going out of my comfort zone and began networking. It didn’t take long to find that a lot of people weren’t even aware that they seem disinterest in a conversation. No wonder there are so many articles on how to listening to the person talking to you!
How Can These Networking Tips Help You?
I attended an event in 2017 led by a C-level exec who recently published a career book. After the event, I approached him to ask a question that I thought he might have some insight on.
How do you find your network as a solo entrepreneur? Instead of engaging in a conversation he said, sorry I don’t have any experience in this.
So, there goes the conversation. I kind of stood there and decided to ask from a different angle. What, in his expert opinion, might be best ways to find a network as an entrepreneur? Again, nothing. He then excused himself to mingle with people he knew.
Ok, I get it, I’m not a big fish. But it’s common courtesy to show interest in someone’s attempt to have a conversation.
There were a few experiences which left me scratching my head about how in the world some people get ahead. I decided to delve into learning as much as I can about networking. Could it be I wasn’t very good at it? I needed to get to the bottom of things!
During my research, I learned a lot of great tips!
I’ll help you by pointing out some concrete things you can do to leave a strong, positive impression. I’ll also outline some quick tips and things to keep in mind while you’re networking.
I found that I have to remind myself about some of these before I go to events still. You might find it useful to save the list somewhere. You can use it to give yourself a “boost” before a professional networking event.
Professional Networking Tips for The Clueless
1. Keep your pose open and loose. Unclench your fists and keep arms loose at your sides or touch fingertips with your hands in front of you.
2. Try to maintain at least 4 feet of personal space when talking to someone.
3. Prep for the networking. Do some up front research and find out what the atmosphere will be like so you can dress appropriately.
4. Ensure you’re not wearing too much perfume or cologne. While we’re talking of smell, keep a few breath mints on hand in case.
5. Stay away from too much alcohol or skip drinking it.
6. Focus on finding one or two people to connect with and not trying to get as many connections as possible. You can scope the room and keep a lookout for one or two people to connect with. Introduce yourself to a person you see who’s standing alone.
7. If you’re trying to ease into a conversation, you can ask them how they heard of the event or what made them come to it.
8. Connect with the people you meet shortly after the event. You should send a follow-up the next day telling them it was great meeting them.
9. You might have a career strategy already, which should include a networking strategy. Plan on connecting with the people in your network on a regular basis that makes sense to you. Block off some time in your schedule to strengthen your network relationships. Revisit your networking strategy every 6 months or so to see what’s working and what isn’t.
10. When researching what professional networking event to attend consider who will be there. Ask yourself if these people will be useful to have in your professional network.
11. Do some research on who you’re connecting with if you can. This will allow you to have better and more meaningful conversations.
12. Find something you and your contact have in common to build rapport.
13. Introduce new people you meet to other people at the event. Give an introduction which includes an interesting fact about them. I.e. “Jane, meet Alice. Alice has her own software company, and guess what, she also went to Guatemala for vacation last year!”
14. Think about what you can offer your network and how you can help them. You might not see an opportunity for someone more senior than you at first. But, you can get creative and offer help in unexpected places, like fundraising. You can also connect people if you think they both have someone who can be valuable to the other. Always begin an interaction with the question of “What can I do for this person?”
15. If you’re looking to connect with someone in your network, consider inviting them to an event you’re planning on going to. This will give you a chance to connect with them on a deeper level and give you a chance to double task.
16. You can strengthen a connection by engaging them on social media. You can offer your own insight if they have a comment or question they pose on social media. This way you can stay relevant and keep the connection fresh.
17. Make a habit of remembering people’s names. It makes people feel valuable when you remember and use their names in conversations.
Quick Twit Quips
- When networking, find something you and the person you’re talking to have in common. This can be as simple as having a pet at home.
- Quick Tip: Maintain at least 4 feet of personal space when you’re talking to someone new. Common courtesy makes for a happy networking opportunity.
- If you’re doing professional networking, have a strategy. Plan time into your schedule to contact someone from your network on a weekly basis.
- If you’re looking to connect with someone in your network, consider inviting them to an event you’re planning on going on. This will give you a chance to connect with them on a deeper level and give you a chance to double task.
Main Photo by LexScope on Unsplash