Whether you like it or not, at some point in your professional career or business you’ll need to start networking with people in order to get stuff done. Or, at least, if you want to get stuff done in a single lifetime.
Even though networking can be one of the quickest ways to jumpstart your business, many people have no clue on how to approach others and get actual use out of social gatherings. This could be for a number of reasons, a few of which we’ll go over.
Many ‘new’ entrepreneurs believe that networking is all about charisma and social skills. While your social charm definitely does play a role in how much you can take from networking get-togethers, the most important factors are purely logical and have nothing to do with your personal charm.
So, what are the most important factors that determine your success during networking events?
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Meet New People
Once they enter the room, many people make a crucial mistake of looking for familiar faces in the crowd. While that may definitely calm your nerves and give you an idea of what to occupy yourself with, that’s completely counterproductive if you came with a specific agenda in mind, and even though you might feel a little more confident during the event, you’re unlikely to take anything out of it, and you’ll be blaming yourself after.
So get over whatever is holding you back and meet some new people! Remember, if the people you already know had what you need, you’d be living your best life by now.
Know What You Came For, but Keep an Open Mind
A couple of most common mistakes made during networking events:
- Now having any clear expectations and goals for the event
- Ignoring other relevant opportunities by focusing on your agenda too hard
The first mistake makes you clueless – you simply walk into the room, not really knowing what you’re after. This is bad on many levels. First of all – you won’t recognize good networking opportunities when they’re staring you in the face. Also, you’ll be unlikely to be a good conversation partner during the event, simply because people won’t understand what it is you’re after and how they can collaborate with you.
The second mistake is arguably even worse. Networking events can unlock most unexpected possibilities for you and your business, but if you stick your head in the sand and ignore everything that doesn’t seem to be on your list of goals and expectations, you might miss out on those opportunities. Instead, be open to new ideas and conversations and watch how those crazy, one-in-a-lifetime connections start shaping up.
Talk Less, Listen More
There’s a reason why we have two ears but only one mouth. In general, people love talking about themselves, but what they love even more is being genuinely heard. Networking is not about presentations – it’s about meaningful conversations. Simply by asking thoughtful questions, following up on the answers and offering your opinion on the matter, you can leave your conversation partners feeling as if they just had a meaningful interaction that was worth their time.