The term ‘networking’ has been thrown around a lot recently, so much so that it has lost its essence. These days, any social event where people can get free drinks is somewhat considered a ‘networking event’.
Let’s be frank. How many sincere connections are you really creating after a few glasses of Tequila? Truth be told, most people would find it hard to recall who they met the night before.
Most would think exclusive social events at high-class rooftop bars promises connections with the right crowds and top businesses. In reality, it’s probably not the best setting to promote your credentials or forge fruitful relationships.
For years, I have been visible in these so-called prime events. Still, I can’t claim that my efforts resulted in creating sincere and rewarding business relationships.
At most, someone might recognize my face and possibly remember my name. Despite the number of business cards I’ve distributed, very few influential stakeholders knew who I was or how to reach me.
Then, I realized I needed to go back to the drawing board and rethink my networking strategy.
Guess what. I got better results.
Here are some networking principles that I’ve tried and tested successfully:
1. Rethink your definition of networking
How do you define networking? Is it just simply getting to know people, marking a date off of your calendar or connecting through social media?
Rethinking what networking means to you can also change the way you approach people.
Every morning when you step out the door, networking commences. This means you need to be presentable, eloquent and able to explain who you are and what you do in no more than a sentence.
Treat everyone you meet as if you were meeting with a potential client because you never know what a simple conversation with an apparent stranger could lead to.
2. Be unforgettable
Imagine you are about to meet the owner of a huge channel, or a successful entrepreneur you’d like to get mentoring from. What do you think you should say to catch their attention?
Shake things up a bit and be creative
Here’s what I did. I once printed my résumé on the back of a T-shirt and deliberately wore it to specific events. I started making my business cards into something useful like fridge magnets or bookmarkers. Do whatever it takes to give yourself an edge above the rest.
3. Be Sincere
One of the most exhausting things about mingling is hearing people talk as if they’re doing a sales pitch. And nobody wants to feel like they’re hustled.
Try this approach instead: speak to a person instead of at them! Listen for common interests. Seek to be relatable and sincere. This is foundational in creating the kind of connection needed for lasting relationships that work in and out of the boardroom.
4. Dress for Success
It’s cliché, I know. But it is true that first impressions last.
People judge you based on your appearance and body language. This is where they decide if you are worth listening to or not. These non-verbal cues weigh as much value as what you say, so make sure you’re sending the right message about your personal brand.
Networking is not an event. It’s an attitude. It’s a lifestyle. You have unrestricted permission to go out there and network the socks out of every day.
So dress up, show up and connect.
Article written by Jill Tang, CEO and Founder at CareerXFactor
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