Networking is a necessary skill (or evil – depending on how you look at it) for business leaders. Some thrive in such settings, while others cannot bare the thought. Whatever your view, it’s an important skill to have, especially now that Christmas parties are just around the corner.
Anyone who’s an entrepreneur has had to network with colleagues or partners at some point in their career, and if you feel like you just don’t excel at this, the problem is, very simply, you.
While this might be a tough pill to swallow, it is also important to acknowledge the issue so that you can start doing something about it. Here are five tips to help turn things around this festive season.
1. Be selective
Make sure you are selective about the events you attend and the people you speak to. Going everywhere and talking to everyone is just not going to work. It is much more effective to dedicate enough time and energy to each meeting you have. No one leaves a very good impression if they are simply flying from one person to the next without having time to consolidate and talk things through calmly.
2. Have an intention
There is nothing more useless than meeting someone with no solid intention. That is when people struggle to make small talk because, well, they have nothing to talk about. It is important to identify the people you need to speak to and the reasons you need to speak to them for before attending events.
3. Connect with the person
Although it is important to have a reason and a target when talking to people at networking events, it is also important to remember to remain human. This means that one should also focus on making a connection with the person they are talking to not just their role and their business.
4. Be consistent
If you really want to stand out at networking events, you must stay loyal and consistent to them. Unfortunately, there are a number of veteran networkers who seem to enjoy attending a group event never to return, and then complain that they got no business out of it. One of the main lessons to take away from networking is that success from a particular event doesn’t happen overnight. It is all about building relationships, and this takes time, effort, and consistency.
5. Follow up
While it is good to make a good first impression and to be remembered, it is also important to follow up because that shows just how interested you are. The best way to go about it is to plan your follow ups rather than just go about them randomly. That way you have dedicated time for such a task, and you can concentrate on it entirely. Some people prefer to follow up with a phone call, others with an email. Either way, our suggestion is that you are brief yet interesting enough in your follow-up to secure another meeting which will hopefully help you to close the deal.
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