One of the most important aspects of success in any business is networking. Effectively communicating and connecting with those around you is crucial to making progress in your industry and attracting potential partners and clients. This can be very daunting for someone just starting out in their field, or someone who is naturally introverted or shy. However, there are many strategies that you can use to develop effective and positive relationships with others in your field.
Remind yourself of what you can bring to the table.
Before any event where you might be networking, remind yourself of your strengths and unique positive qualities, and be proud of them! People are going to be more interested in working with you when they see what is so special about you and what sets you apart from the rest of the pack. Don’t be afraid to talk about your skills and talents if it is appropriate – you just might find your next client that way.
Connect on a personal level.
Don’t think of a new business acquaintance in terms of what they can do for you – think of them as a person, and communicate with them accordingly. Ask them about their lives, recognize them when they do something important or helpful, and always remember to be polite and friendly. People care about people who care about them, so by showing genuine interest, you will stick out in people’s minds long after your initial meeting.
Keep things efficient.
When attending a meeting, conference, or networking event, aim to get the most out of every conversation you have. If you talk to fifty people over the course of a day, but you don’t make a meaningful connection with anyone, that’s far less efficient than just talking to a few people, but having an in-depth conversation with each of them. Also, don’t feel obligated to stay for the entirety of any networking event – if you feel like you aren’t getting anything out of it after an hour, it’s more than okay to leave. Your time is valuable.
Ask for an introduction.
If you have a mutual friend or connection with someone that you would like to work with or get to know better, don’t hesitate to ask them to introduce you. By taking advantage of the connections you already have, you will have an easy icebreaker when you do meet the person, and they will likely take you more seriously because of your relationship with someone that they already know and trust. Just remember not to be too pushy – a light and friendly tone is best.
Developing business relationships can be difficult, but with practice and consideration, it becomes second nature.