Here are some ways of talking the talk and doing it right.
The ability to network efficiently and create meaningful connections is necessary for success in entrepreneurship and life. From meeting new investors willing to bet on you or hiring the best employees, networking is the foundation of building your community and seeking new knowledge and opportunities. However, it does not come easily to many people, as putting yourself out in the world may feel like stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Well, fret not! We’re here with some tips to help you up your networking game!
1. Do your research
Having at least some basic knowledge of the people or groups you wish to work with is a great way to show respect. Try to find out their major visions, goals and passions. This may give you a better idea of how you can become relatable and relevant to your target group or individual. For instance, you can suggest solutions to problems facing them or their business upon learning their pain points.
2. A friend of a friend is a friend
Capitalizing on the social capital of your existing network is one of the easiest ways to make new connections. Ask your current circle of friends if they know people in the industries, companies, groups etc., that you are interested in. If they have the relevant connections you are looking for, politely request your contact to make an introduction. You are likely to make a stronger connection with your target audience if both of you share mutual friends.
3. Find common passions
No matter how interested you may be in someone’s career and achievements, try to find some common ground outside of work. This could be in the form of shared hobbies or similar interests. These shared passions can help create a solid foundation for a relationship because sharing a love for similar things is the simplest way to endear yourself to someone. Comments and suggestions on these shared interests are great conversation starters, and your time spent together engaging in hobbies may present other opportunities to get to know others who may like to partake in them. If nothing else, you can still find yourself in the company of people you can enjoy a good time with.
4. Treat networking as a mindset
A lot of people seem to be under the impression that they have to go out of their way to network. This is not always the case, and it needs not ever be so. Instead of treating networking merely as a skill set you only practice in specific situations, think of it as a mindset you apply in your day-to-day life.
Start by appreciating your everyday interactions with friends, family and colleagues. Forming meaningful connections within existing circles opens up many opportunities for those who know you, your skills and your temperament well. They are likely to remember you when they come across a point of interest and make a recommendation in your favor.
5. Practice being an active listener
Instead of thinking about what you might say next to further the conversation in the direction you want, put effort into actively listening to and understanding someone’s answer. To do that, you can try approaching all conversations with genuine curiosity by asking meaningful questions to which you are keen on learning the answers. You may end up learning something precious by letting people speak their minds and paying your full attention while they do.
6. Always follow up!
You have just had a great conversation with someone interesting, and it could potentially lead to something more mutually beneficial. You may all but have the deal in the bag, but it never hurts to send a personalized follow-up message to cinch it. The idea is to keep you memorable long after the conversation has ended.
Reach out to them with a personal message to remind them of who you are, where you met and a point of conversation you shared during your interaction. Not only does this allow you to continue the conversation, but it also keeps a useful record for yourself. If you run into said individual at a later date and cannot immediately place them, you can refer back to your message to jog your memory and save yourself the trouble of appearing rude or forgetful.
These skills are pretty simple, but like most skill sets, it takes time and practice to master them. You can develop your confidence as you learn to apply these skills to your unique communication style. Trial and error are normal, and we hope these tips will help you improve how you form connections and achieve your goals.
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