Attending a networking event can be quite stressful if you are not used to it. Your mind may start to wander into nothingness and panic may set in and make the whole thing quite nerve-wracking.
If you’ve been to various networking events, then that should be not be a problem. You may even have tips to share with your mates and grow your network together.
But what does one require to network objectively and effectively?
“The first thing that prevents us from building a strategic network is our mindset that networking is self-serving. And when we believe that any attempt to establish relationships is only for our benefit, we are less inclined to pursue these conversations, “reads an article by Bonnie Marcus on Forbes Women.
That being said, below are five key point on how to plan a better networking event next time you find yourself in a room full of people you would like to network with.
1. You’ve got to plan
Effective networkers will tell you that it takes time to perfect your elevator pitch and to always carry business cards, even when you’re just running errands. The more prepared you are, the easier and smoother networking will be.
2. Practice active listening
If you are not a good listener, practicing active listening can help you to make valuable connections, but this can be difficult, especially when you’re networking in busy, loud places.
Tip: Work on being a good, active listener by maintaining eye contact, paying attention, and responding with insightful, relevant questions.
3. Strategic question asking
Learning to ask good questions that lead to meaningful conversations takes time, but it’s a valuable skill for networking.
Try to practice it regularly. It can actually be fun because everyone enjoys the conversation more. Use active listening skills to ask questions that build on what the other person is saying.
This demonstrates that you’re genuinely interested in other people’s ideas. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your questions, and try to move past the standard questions that people probably hear regularly.
4. Try to focus on other person’s interests
It’s all too tempting to talk about ourselves, like we often do. However, if you reach out to connect with someone, you need to make the conversation about them. It’s fine to talk a bit about yourself, but then turn the conversation focus back to the other person – and definitely don’t try to sell anything during your first conversation. Trust me, if they like you and are interested in what you have to offer, sales will take care of itself.
5. Adding value by having meaningful relationships
This is sometimes the most difficult skill to master. Think about ways you can offer value to others through your knowledge, skills, or even through your connections. Understanding the value you offer can help you establish mutually beneficial relationships.
What most people who have crafted this skill is that good networking is a learned skill, and all entrepreneurs have made mistakes with their networking at some point.
More important, though, is that they’ve learned from their mistakes, refined their techniques, and mastered the art of networking.
Good luck on your networking event!