How To: Network Like a Pro
Today most job offers come through referral and word of mouth, it's not what you know, it's who you know. What does this mean for you? Network, network, network. Let's discuss some key ways you can grow your contacts list through effective networking techniques.
Networking is a state of mind.
Think about that sentence for a moment, a state of mind, not simply an activity but instead a hat put on each morning reminding you to to be proactive. If you change your mentality from reactive to proactive with networking, then the sky is your limit. The next time you go to a public event, cafe, shopping centre or business meeting make sure you are proactive. Take a card, give a card, get someone's name and wear a smile. You are a walking business advertisement everywhere you go. If you actively seek out opportunities to connect every day then you'll never have an issue finding clients.
Not all networking is the same.
Treat your networking opportunities like a sport. Size up the room and listen for hints about who you should focus your time on. There's nothing worse than getting bogged down, one on one, with someone who takes all your time and energy with nothing provided in return. Keep your options open and more importantly your ears. Some of the best networking opportunities come by surprise from people you'd least expect. When you're in a room analyse the people like you would a board game. Who is influential, who could connect me to a customer base, who do I want to leave my card with. Time is finite, spend it wisely.
Always carry a smile and your brand.
Lighten up! You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it's a good one. People will remember you as the chick with the nice smile, the tall guy, the knowledgeable one, the funny girl with quick wit. What does your first impression say about your brand? It's 2017 and today people care about the person behind the brand. You are a walking, talking billboard full of insight and knowledge, make sure you control the impression that is left behind.
Walk into the room with a smile, answer questions with a smile and be genuine. A good listener is more likely to be heard than someone waiting for their opportunity to bless the world with the next sentence. If you can listen effectively, produce a business card and do so with a smile then you're already half way there. Get to know people, listen to their underlying needs and concerns and make sure you're ready to connect, whether it be a paper card or a LinkedIn invitation.
Never underestimate the power of networking and face-to-face communication in today's business world. Have a think about the last first impression you left, how can you improve, how can you wow that next connection?