5 Tricks to Becoming a Great Networker!
By: Kelsey Low, The Growth Coach Central Valley
For many, the idea of showing up to a place with the goal of meeting new people can be intimidating. I have heard so many people say “I had to force myself to come here” in regards to a networking event.
I am an extrovert at heart and love meeting other people. For most, networking can be intimidating and stressful. If you’re an introvert, this guide is going to help you become a great networker instead of an “Awkward-Annie”
1. Come with an open mind
Think about how you can be curious and discover things about other people. Networking is about connecting with other people. Come with the intention to learn about other people while simultaneously sharing about yourself. This is not an opportunity to show off and dominate every conversation. On the reverse, if someone asks you a question- be bold and confident about who you are and what you do. This is a time for connection not comparison or judgments.
2. Ask Questions!
The easiest thing for a person to talk about is themselves. Ask people about what they do. Ask people what they love about the community. Ask them what they want in 2019. If you’re feeling awkward- you can alleviate the awkwardness by asking them open-ended questions. (Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a “yes” or a “no”.
Be engaged with what they are saying. Really pay attention and ask follow up questions. Be present. Don’t be thinking about what you’re going to say next. Really be present in listening to other people. Most people think about themselves and miss key things. Maybe the person you’re talking to isn’t an ideal client but could know someone who is. Or maybe they could be your new best friend lol.
Be aware of Non Verbal Communication.
Some say communication is 20% words and 80% non-verbal communication. In all social situations, be aware of the non-verbal messages you are sending.
When someone is talking to you and really engaged in what you’re saying- their feet will be pointing towards you. If one or both feet are pointed away from you or they are leaning away- they are trying to get away. Take the cue and let them walk away. Easy as smiling and saying “enjoy the night”
Use eye contact. Networking is about connecting and the best way to do that is to look at someone in the eyes. It also shows your confidence in being able to listen and be attentive.
Try to avoid crossing your arms. This could non-verbally block people from approaching you because it gives a message that you are closed off.
The universal cue for noticing if someone is engaged in what you’re saying (or to show someone you’re engaged in what they are saying) is the raising of the eye brows. This little tip is more about you being aware of your own expressions. Raise your eye brows and nod your head when you want someone to know you’re engaged in what they are saying.
4. Don’t give everyone and their mom a business card
Only give away business cards to people you make a deep connection with. Normally, 2-3 people in one networking event. If someone really wants to continue a conversation with you or if you get to the point of exchanging any information- then give a business card. But for every interaction, you don’t need to give them a card. For one, it takes you out of the present moment if you do. Secondly, think about how many business cards you’ve received and never done anything with except maybe add them to a mailing list? Save them for the true connections.
5. Be prepared to answer this question: What do you do?
People want to know, people are interested and also know the point of a networking event is to meet like-minded people and exchange business. Icing on the cake: say what you do and how you help people. Example: “I am a business coach and I help people use like experiences to grow in their career”
Gives the person a title and a more humanitarian view.
Don’t fire hydrant people about your services. Talk about what you care about and how you help and serve people or the community.