Impressive Networking: 11 Ways to Profile Yourself in a Crowd
Ever want to be more than just another face in the crowd and pique the interest of top influencers? Welcome to the wonderful world of networking. It isn’t for everyone, but it’s one of the most important activities for professional and personal growth. Respect isn’t bought, it’s earned. Still, many fail to grasp the basic concepts like manners, etiquette, and friendship when attempting to “talk big”. Whether at an international conference, a networking session, or an informal dinner, the end result to winning respect is to gain trust and think of others in order to engage on a deeper level that could lead to an actionable commitment.
Here are a few simple techniques you can use to network more effectively:
1. Look Sharp, Stay Sharp
We all know the saying, “First impressions are everything.” The first seven seconds upon meeting someone new are crucial, so what better way to leave a good impression than by dressing to impress. Be bold, dress according to your own style while looking professional. Control the situation before it even begins and let those few precious seconds do the talking for you while you scope the room for your first conversation.
2. Keep it Cool
Nothing exudes confidence quite like impeccable posture; however without eye contact and a smile, you could lose out on some potentially
beneficial conversation. Show that you are friendly and ready to make the first move by looking relaxed and easy-going. Remember: no one likes a grouch.
3. Be Proactive and Show Initiative
Try to not be the shy delegate drinking alone in the corner. Instead look for those who are alone and start a conversation with them. You will be amazed to see how relieved they are to share company and be willing to walk around the room with you to join in bigger groups.
4. Think Differently
Be bold and refrain from asking about work, projects, and the like right off the bat. Instead, take yourself back to high school by asking about favourite colours, food, hobbies, or holidays. It is unlikely that others around you are taking the same approach. This will help your party relax into a more natural conversation which can lead to discussions on those projects or opportunities you wanted to discuss earlier!
5. Don't Be a Floppy Fish
There is nothing more off-putting than shaking a limp and sweaty hand. This is the only physical contact you will make with a business acquaintance and one of the best insights to perceiving how much personal interest someone has in you. If someone is unwilling to provide a firm handshake, it is probably better to move on. A good handshake is firm and lasts a few seconds, and if you are nervous, wipe your hands before passing it on.
6. Common Ground
Identify yourself with what the other person likes by seeking out common interests. Everyone likes talking about themselves in some way, so by focusing on similarities you will have better control in steering the conversation to your main purpose with ease.
True confidence comes from understanding humility and being open to the notion that everyone has something unique to offer. By treating each person like a mentor, your enthusiasm for their insight will come across more genuine and will turn respect to an even deeper rapport.
8. Don't Phone it In
Nothing shows disinterest in a conversation than taking your phone out to check your email right in the middle of it. In our technologically advanced society, we have an unhealthy tendency to use our mobile phones even when others are engaged in conversation with us. Unless it is an emergency, keep the phone out of sight. The conversation at hand could be more beneficial than Facebook or Twitter.
9. Time is Precious
The golden rule of networking is to keep it short, so sticking with someone for more than five minutes can rob you and your new acquaintance the opportunity to meet other interesting people. Invite others to your conversation or politely indicate that you wish to circle the room while you have the opportunity.
10. Stop the Swap
Unless it is offered to your first, it is recommended to swap business cards at the end of the conversation. While useful, business cards are distracting and may sever real conversation with opportunistic delegates who are only interested in counting cards at the end of the night.
11. Keep to your Promises
The initial conversation is just the beginning. Networking doesn’t end at an event, it continues on well after. Real business very often takes place on the second or third meeting, so take action the next day by offering to meet again to continue the conversation. This is particularly important if you promised to get in touch, and can instantly build trust and respect.