Successful entrepreneurs know that networking is not a numbers game. Who you know is just as important as what you learn in terms of career success.
Networking is a gradual process of making genuine connections with people and cultivating those relationships for the long term. But building a network, especially at meetings and conferences where you must leave your office and meet people face to face, can be hard sometimes.
Meeting people in person is the best way to build strong, trusting and lasting relationships. It’s also a great way to meet other like-minded professionals who can provide advice and encouragement.
Here are five ways to level up your networking skills, expand your network circle and form solid, mutually beneficial relationships:
Do your research
Conducting research is one of the most helpful ways you can improve your networking skills. Learning about the people you’re connecting with in advance gives you the advantage of assessing their personalities and character so that you can make the proper adjustments before engaging in conversation.
There are various ways to find information about an upcoming event or conference. A simple search through the event website will likely yield the results you’re looking for. Arming yourself with information maximizes the chance that those conversations will be more productive and meaningful.
Prepare an elevator pitch
When networking, look for people who can support you in reaching your goals and developing your skills. Have a 30 to 60-second elevator pitch ready to improve your ability to convey ideas and concepts.
An elevator pitch is a quick summary introducing yourself. When delivering one, ensure you highlight your values, what you hope to gain from the relationship and how connecting with you would benefit the other person.
Elevator pitches are handy to remember whenever you’re at an event where you might meet prospective job or networking connections.
Listen more than you talk
Focus more on the other person and less on yourself; you will be perceived as the most engaging person in the room.
Start by asking the right questions and then listen to the other person’s response. Even if you might not agree with everything the person says, the primary key is being a good listener.
Keep your networking efforts simple. Become interested in others, find out what matters to them and then center your conversations on their interests and priorities. When you are genuine and sincere, your network will grow organically.
Often the person you network with wants to help you. Now that you have met, there is a connection. Next, you need to build upon the initial connections you make.
A crucial key to proper networking and building your business relationships are regularly keeping up with the person you connected with. This removes the pressure from you as you do not have to accomplish everything during your first meeting.
After building a new connection, sending them a note by email or social media would be a good idea. Mention something you discussed when you met and send over any information you think might benefit them. Periodically checking in on someone you met will help you build more meaningful relationships.
Patience is key
When networking, it’s better to play a long game rather than the short one. Relationship building isn’t something you should only be doing at the beginning of your career; it’s a process that can take decades. But, done right, it can make all the difference in your career, creativity, and personal life and help you produce life-long relationships.
Time and patience are essential when building a solid network. The result may take longer but will lead to deeper relationships and better opportunities.