Not all of us are born networkers, so we have to work at improving the skill and it is a vital one. Fortunately, networking is a fundamental skill that you can develop with a little effort. You never know where your next referral will come from, so it behooves you to wear your networking hat whenever you are out in public.
If you are an introvert, don’t worry or feel pressure to be “on” all the time. Just use these tips when you are ready to engage.
In Order to be Interesting, Charm…
One of the greatest arts of interacting is being able to ask questions that encourage the speaker to open up. Of course, the point is not to be a therapist or get someone to let it all hang out, but to find questions that engage on a different level than just routine small talk. A charming question can encourage someone to reflect on an event in a whole new way.
At the next networking event you attend, ask open-ended questions that inspire a real conversation. Not only will you get people to open up, but you will also become more memorable and create a connection.
In Order to be Engaging, Listen…
Have you ever been in a conversation at a meet and greet and had to tell someone the same information over and over again because they weren’t really listening to you? It is important to treat the person in front of you with respect and listen deeply to their words. You may be surprised at how conversations will unfold when you focus on listening instead of what you are going to say next.
People can tell when your mind is focused on their words or something else. Challenge yourself to listen with complete attention, especially when you feel distracted. If your distraction becomes too overwhelming, you can use that as a way to extend the interaction, saying, “I’d really like to talk to you more about that. May I have your card and contact you later, so that we can continue the conversation?” Now you’ve created an opportunity for future action.
In Order to Feel Comfortable, Help…
If you are concerned about feeling part of the crowd, offer to help. Most events are run on a shoestring and could use even more support. Consider the time you donate an investment in creating the community and use the opportunity to help as training to assist you in further developing your skills.
This is a great opportunity for introverts to feel involved with events, which can help you warm up to pull yourself off that wall and start mixing and mingling.
In Order to Feel Confident, Know…
Confidence goes a long way in helping humans feel more comfortable, so practice your pitch before you head out. Think of the questions you’re most likely to hear, which will help later when you’re approaching other people to make connections, and devise quick, succinct answers for them.
Networking isn’t about making a sale, it’s about making connections you can build over time. If they result in doing business, so much the better.
Republished by permission. Original here.
Networking Photo via Shutterstock
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