I hope you found my previous blog Networking Part I–The Compliment to Social Media helpful. I gave you some tips for wisely choosing events and how to prepare for them prior to attending.
As promised, here is the next installment of what to do during the networking event.
Of course you know that networking is all about growing relationships. Nothing happens without the relationship. Building and nurturing your relationships is critical to growing your business, or your readership. But just how do you do that?
Here’s a little secret. Before you attend your next networking event, think about the people you want to meet there. Then think about how you want those people to remember you.
Let’s look at that again. How do you want to be remembered by the people you meet?
Will they think you were fun to talk to? Easy to converse with? Did you make them feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence? Did you make them feel important because you showed a genuine interest in what they had to say?
Will they remember you as being negative and whiny? Did they feel exhausted after trying to converse with you because it was so much work to get you to talk? Or did you only ramble on about yourself and never inquire about them or their work?
Am I saying that you can’t be yourself? Of course not. Most people can see through a false bravado quickly and be turned off–wondering how they can fully trust the person. All I’m saying is this is a time when you do need to put your best foot forward–make sure all your best qualities shine. And you can do this easily by taking a moment to think about the other person, and what will make them feel comfortable and engaged while talking with you. It’s really that easy.
But it does take practice, Many times when we are under pressure to carry a conversation; we find it easiest to talk about what we know best–ourselves. When you catch yourself doing this, finish what you were saying and then follow up with a similar question to the person listening to you. Get them involved in the conversation and make sure you are paying attention to what they have to say. This is your chance to pick up on a personal note and expand upon it, gaining new insight to the person.
This means that you sometimes have to break free of your comfort zone and explore into areas where you may not feel so confident. But that’s okay. The other person is probably feeling the same emotions and insecurities that you are. So relax. Try to enjoy yourself. Engage.
A very wise person once told me to remember that 90% of what you are feeling is exactly what the other person is feeling. Embrace that thought and use it to make the other person feel safe and comfortable in your presence. That is what they remember about you.
Watch for the next installment: Networking Part III – No No’s for Networking