No one likes networking.
That’s quite reassuring to know, isn’t it? You’re not the only one who has to force themselves to network, to sell themselves, to make business connections. The entire idea is fundamentally unpleasant. Networking can be expensive, time-consuming, and outright dull; even extroverts who dearly love the company of other people have a tough time networking for the sake of their business or career.
However, it’s networking is also necessary; that’s why so many people plaster on a fake smile and make themselves do it. If you want to improve your business or career prospects, then you’re going to have to engage with the business community in your area. It’s a must.
To try and make the entire process more bearable and more effective, let’s examine the different facets that can contribute to successful networking… and the mistakes you might make that render the whole task a waste of time.
Invest In Your Success
Preparation is essential to good networking– but it can be expensive. For any networking event, you need to be fully primed to give the best impression; have a stack of business cards on hand to give to anyone who asks and be dressed in a business-appropriate manner. This can, admittedly, be expensive; a suit can cost a fortune, and printing up a huge number of business cards can give your wallet a knock. Just do the best you can with the funds you have available; even wearing a second-hand suit and proffering cheap business cards is better than having nothing at all. Invest what you can to ensure you give the best impression of yourself; it’s far better to do this than just go without.
A smile can make all the difference in the world. Without a smile, you can come across as rude and standoffish. If you remember to smile, then you’re approachable and friendly. Given you’re networking in an attempt to gain connections, approachable and friendly is definitely the impression you’re going to want to convey, so smile wide!
Not Asking Questions
Networking should be able engaging with other people, as well as selling yourself. Ask people questions about their business and show interest in their answers. No one is just going to want to hear a one-way sales pitch about how great you, your company or your talents are.
Being Rude Or Argumentative
This one doesn’t need much explanation: don’t do it. You’re networking to build bridges, not set them aflame.
Boasting is a surefire way to make yourself the least popular person in the room. While you can mention your accomplishments if asked, don’t announce them without direct request. Being humble will be far more effective when it comes to engaging with people.
Drinking Too Much
Many networking events have an open bar in exchange for the event ticket price. You’re nervous and in need of a distraction. When you look at the situation like that, it’s not really a surprise that so many people at networking events have a tendency to drink one too many– but it’s imperative you avoid falling into the same trap. Paying for a ticket can be expensive, so make sure you get your money’s worth by establishing business connections, not a hangover the next day.
Networking might never be your favorite activity, but if you keep the above in mind, you should at least be able to ensure you’re networking effectively. Good luck at your next event!