Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

Improve the Quality of Your Networking

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Apr 27, 2017 10:04 PM

Networking is a valuable way to acquire new clients, expand your knowledge and learn from the success of others. It also gives you the opportunity to tell others what your business is all about, with the hope of getting a positive response from them. However, you can only enjoy the benefits of networking if you do it correctly. Here are essential tips on how you can improve your networking as a business professional.

Be Genuine

Networking is all about honesty and authenticity. Being honest and authentic builds trust with your target audience. Someone who trusts you will be happier to do business with you and even recommend you to his friends and relatives. Avoid giving your contacts misleading information just to get them to work with you. Chances are that you will be caught, and this might lead to loss of great opportunities.

Be Present

Most business professionals go to an event with the aim of getting people to focus on what they offer. You cannot attract the attention of the person you are talking to if you are not able to focus yourself. Do not talk to someone while at the same time looking around the room or at your phone. Being fully present gives the impression that you care about the person and mean what you are saying. 

Listen More Than You Talk

Take your time and listen to the other person without thinking about the words you are going to say the moment he finishes speaking. Listen, even if the person talks too much about himself. Take at least three seconds before you answer or respond. This will give you enough time to think about how you are going to respond so that you don't say anything annoying or stupid. It will also help you create a positive impression on the person you are talking to.

Focus More on Giving

You need to think about how you can help the person, rather than how he can help you. You are the company's representative, so you need to stand out as a key source of the solution to his problems. Even if you are not able to help the person, think of another friend or connection you could introduce him to. 

Ask Open-Minded Questions

Ask questions that require more than a one-word answer during networking conversations. Such questions give you more room to maneuver around them and engage the person further. The answers to these questions should provide you with valuable information. For instance, you can ask him about where he spends most of the time during weekends, the biggest thing he is working on at the moment and various problems his business faces. Such questions give you a chance to know whether you are in a better position to do business with the person or not. They also make you look smart and different from the competitors. 

Develop High-Quality Business Cards

A business card is an integral component of any networking plan. It helps you present a professional image your contacts will remember. If done poorly, it can break a prospective customer's first impression of your business. Come up with a card design style that matches your business and industry. If you offer funeral services, you don't want to be seen with a card that has cartoon images on them. 

It is good to have your face on the card so that the contact can remember you the next time you bump into each other. Make sure your cards have the right texture and a splash of colors to create a good first impression. 

Know Why You Are Networking

You must know what you hope to gain from your networking. Do you want more clients or business mentors? Are you planning to release a new product? Do you want to gain more knowledge and training? Knowing your goals can help you align your networking strategies to the right audience and events. Remember to engage with positive influences, such as those you admire or people who can help you further your success.

Develop a Thick Skin

Not everyone you contact will listen to you, let alone give you their contact information. You need to get used to hearing the word "no" over and over again. Handling rejection calmly will help you develop the confidence and tenacity to move on despite the negative response.

The tips discussed above can only work if you are willing to get out there and network. Identify the conferences, trade shows and business networking events that suit you and be ready to talk, shake some hands and issue business cards.

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