The 12 Do’s and 10 Don’ts That Will Have You Networking Like a ProJul 10, 2023
Networking doesn't come easy to me. The nerves always get the best of me when I attend networking events. I wish I could just hide under a table until it's over. But I've faced my fears and am now becoming a regular networker. Want to know how? I'll share my journey and some valuable tips from my fellow board members at Colorado Business Women.
During our June luncheon, three board members shared their best networking tips that I can't help but pass on to you. If you feel the same anxiety when attending networking events, don't worry. It can get easier. I also share 10 mistakes you don’t want to make while networking.
12 Do’s to Networking
Here are 12 networking do's that will help you navigate these events with confidence:
- Start by setting your intentions and making a plan: Clarify your objectives and what you hope to achieve through networking. Whether it's finding job opportunities, gaining industry insights, or building a professional support system, having a plan will keep you focused.
- Know your personal brand statement: Keep your introduction concise but intriguing. Give a short description of how you serve your clients, leaving the person wanting to know more. Remember, it's not about throwing up information but making a memorable impression.
- Craft purposeful questions: Have a few questions in mind that you can use to start conversations. Some favorites include asking about the best thing that happened to them that week, what inspires them in their business, and what challenges they face.
- Listen and avoid assumptions: Listen carefully to the response after asking a question. Look for opportunities to offer help or assistance. Remember, networking is about connecting people, not selling to them.
- Look beyond industry-specific events: While industry gatherings are great, don't limit yourself to them. Explore other groups and meetups related to your hobbies, family, and interests. You may find interesting people who can connect you with others.
- Join open conversations: Look for groups of people standing open to the room. These are easier to join. Avoid groups where people are engrossed in deep conversation. When you're already in a conversation, keep yourself open for others to join.
- Be authentic: Let your passion for your business shine through. Approach conversations with a genuine interest in others and actively listen. Show empathy, ask thoughtful questions, and engage in meaningful discussions.
- Know how to gracefully exit a conversation: Don't get stuck in one conversation all night. Move around and meet new people. One good strategy is to express your appreciation for the conversation and suggest connecting for coffee another time.
- Follow up and stay in touch: Send a personalized message or email expressing your appreciation for the conversation after meeting someone. Connect with them on LinkedIn and find ways to stay in touch, such as sharing relevant articles or inviting them for coffee.
- Build relationships before you need them: Don't wait until you need help to start networking. Cultivate relationships consistently over time so that when you do need support, you have an established network to rely on.
- Utilize online platforms: Use professional social media platforms like LinkedIn. Connect with industry peers, join relevant groups, and participate in discussions. Share valuable content and engage with others to expand your network.
- Be patient and persistent: Networking takes time and effort. Don't expect instant results. Nurture relationships over time and stay persistent in your networking endeavors.
10 Key Networking Mistakes to Avoid
Networking is crucial for personal and professional growth, but it's important to avoid common mistakes and make genuine connections. Here are 10 "don'ts" to keep in mind:
- Don't automatically add people to your email list: It's illegal and presumptuous. Instead, invite them to join your list when you follow up.
- Don't collect business cards just for fun: Only ask for a card if you have a common interest and can offer assistance.
- Don't push your product on others: Instead, focus on how you can help them. If they need your product or service, they'll ask for it.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions: Asking about someone's work or experiences shows interest and builds relationships. Just avoid getting too personal.
- Don't overshare personal details: Keep networking professional by avoiding sensitive or inappropriate information.
- Don't be too aggressive or pushy: Building relationships takes time, so respect boundaries and avoid bombarding others with requests.
- Don't disregard professional etiquette: Always be professional and respectful, avoiding offensive language, jokes, or controversial topics.
- Don't forget to diversify your network: Expand your horizons by connecting with individuals from diverse industries, backgrounds, and perspectives.
- Don't monopolize conversations: Give others a chance to share their stories and experiences rather than focusing solely on yourself.
- Don't expect instant results: Building a strong network takes time and effort. Be patient and understand the long-term benefits.
Remember, networking isn't just about what you can gain but how you can contribute and help others. Developing a solid professional network opens doors to opportunities, insights, and mutually beneficial relationships.
Looking for networking opportunities in Metro Denver? Check out Colorado Business Women, an organization that inspires and empowers women in business and builds connections through an inclusive community that supports and celebrates women.
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