Some people (we all know at least one) seem to have miraculous skills at networking. No matter what they need done, there’s always someone they can contact to help them out. They have so many links to people in various different fields that you might wonder ‘How on earth do they get to know all these contacts?’ For some of us, networking isn’t a skill that comes naturally. Especially for people who are shy or introverted, networking can seem like a stressful activity that requires too much effort. However, there are a few simple things you can keep in mind and apply to become a better networker, even if you don’t feel you have the natural talent for it.
- Be sincere.
To be a successful networker, you need to show a sincere interest in the people you meet. Job titles, business opportunities and other benefits should not be your primary reason for getting to know them. For a business professional, this may seem like a waste of time, but it is important to remember that you need to establish a healthy relationship in order to see any benefits in return. By being genuine and trustworthy, you set the foundation for a healthy relationship.
- Listen first, talk later.
This is where introverts can actually be better networkers than extroverts. To establish a good relationship, you need to listen to what the other party is saying and understand their point of view. Instead of opening the conversation with a lecture about yourself, give the other person a chance to voice their opinion. They’ll appreciate you much more for it.
- A good relationship is worth more than the transactions you gain from it.
Measuring the relationships you make by the amount of business and profits they bring you is the wrong way to go about networking. Sometimes, the contacts you judge to be of least value in this way can turn out to be very useful. For instance, you may still be in contact with a client from your early years who has not been giving you much business lately. However, the strong relationship you have built with this person means that they would passionately recommend you to anyone who is interested, or they may be able to help you find a supplier or distributor at some point when you need it.
- There is no fixed time and place to make new contacts
Networking effects and conferences aren’t the only places where you can meet new contact to add to your network. This may sound odd, but you can meet useful people even at the grocery store, or the dentist. To make an impact on the people you meet in such a setting however, will require you to show some authenticity in your approach.
- Be the type of person you would want to meet.
This sums up many of the tips towards becoming a better networker. Would you respond positively to someone who came up to you and just started making a business proposal? Or would the relationship be better if the person got to know you and offered you some value? Conduct your networking in the same way you would like to be approached, and you should do fine.