Occasionally it pays to go back to basics and so it felt the right thing to do for October’s blog, to just revisit the very essence of networking. How to make a favourable impression with people that we come into contact with while networking. Nothing earth shattering here, but take just a few minutes to remind yourself perhaps.
1. Show interest in the people you meet. Never introduce yourself with a pitch about you. Start by asking about the person you are speaking to. Find out what he or she does and make the conversation personal. Not only are people happy when you show interest in them, but what they have to say will help direct the rest of your conversation with them.
2. Engage on a human level. Martin talks about human-2-human interaction. Business owners can fall into the trap of talking too much about themselves and their business. People quickly grow tired of hearing about other people. Instead ask lots of questions about the other person, that will leave a longer lasting impression on them.
3. Be confident and have a firm handshake. No one likes a wavering person or a limp handshake! If you show confidence, others will pick up on that. People remember a nice, firm handshake that doesn’t linger too long. Ask a question with genuine interest, then listen. People love to hear themselves talk, so let them. You will learn a lot about what others do and then you will get the chance to follow up in a positive way.
4. Make a human connection. Try to search for some common ground and make a human connection with the person you are talking to, rather than instantly asking them what they do. The best networking is done by building a real relationship with someone, not just swapping business cards.
5. Tell them your why. Open up by explaining why you do what you do, and why you love it, is sometimes more interesting than what you actually do. It allows the conversation to take many directions and helps you find common ground. They may not be interested in what you do, but if your “why” is compelling, you have a chance to actually get to know someone and network. And make it a two-way street: Don’t forget to ask them about their “why.”
6. Focus on non-verbal communication. When meeting someone for the first time, what you don’t say matters just as much as what you do say. Go back to the basics of non-verbal communication and make sure you greet people with a smile and a firm handshake, and that you look them in the eye and introduce yourself with confidence. Repeat your contact’s name as the conversation ends, this attention to detail is sure to leave a positive impression.
7. Eye contact. Keeping eye contact throughout the conversation is important. Asking questions while focusing in on the individual will help build an immediate relationship. It allows the other person to see how much you value the engagement, learning more and making a real connection.
8. Be yourself. Do it your way. By being original, you will market your brand and image as being authentic.
9. Make it about them. Think “role reversal.” After you’ve introduced yourself, focus on their story and their needs. Be a better listener than a talker, which is tough for all of us to do at times. They’ll appreciate being able to have the stage to share their company’s story; then you will become their problem solver.