Some tips to make your networking experience more enjoyable
My boss looked at me with a smile this morning after I gave a brief update about connecting with some business associates. I really get excited about the people I meet and the knowledge we share with each other.
“You sure like networking,” he said.
“Yes, I guess I do,” I replied with a smile of my own.
It wasn’t always that way, though. There was a time when I felt out of place at networking events. I got very nervous about having a meal or coffee with a professional contact.
But that began to change years ago when I took a job as a reporter at a business publication. Our publisher gave me a few basic tips that really helped. Getting active in professional associations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and serving on the board of a community organization raised my comfort level considerably.
Here are a few things that I’ve found helpful:
* Bring business cards and make a goal of handing out a certain number. Don’t just shove them into somebody’s hand and move on. Get to know them, and then politely head to the next person.
* Ask questions. Express genuine interest in what the other person has to say. Everyone has a story to tell. Listen to it.
* Find a commonality. Perhaps you attended the same school, like the same kind of music, love the same vacation spot. Use that as a conversation point.
* Try to find ways to help the person. Perhaps you can point them to a resource or a contact that would help them further their goals.
* Get to the point. If there is a key point you want to make, do it quickly. If you’re looking for a job or building awareness about a product or service, be concise. Don’t hold the person hostage.
* Have fun. Enjoy the conversation. I’ve developed lasting relationships and friendships by attempting to practice some of the above.
I’d love to hear some of your networking tips. Please feel free to share in the comments.