It’s true what they say: it’s all about who you know. If you are a professional, chances are you have been invited to, or have attended a networking event. Although to some it may not seem like networking events can impact your business, the connections you may encounter can possibly add huge value to your organization. There are a number of benefits associated with networking, like learning valuable tips from experts in your industry and especially making your brand more visible in the community.
While some individuals thrive in social situations, we know that introducing yourself to others can be a little more difficult for the introverts in the room. We have some helpful networking tips if you are new to the professional world, or would just like to brush up on your social skills for events in the community.
Move Around the Room – If you are more on the shy side, introducing yourself or starting a conversation out of the blue can fill you with dread. However, typically at networking events, there are smaller conversations happening. Mingle around the room, and stop to linger for a conversation that may sound interesting or beneficial to you. If there is already someone you know in that conversation, even better. A shared connection gives you the opportunity to be introduced to a new group of people and ideas.
Quality over Quantity – Some individuals define a successful networking event by walking home with a bundle of business cards. While that may feel satisfying at the time, it may not be the best approach. Our magic number is 3. Focus on establishing 3 solid connections at your event, and really get to know these people, instead of checking them off on an imaginary list. Scout out the type of people and organizations that you would like to connect with and why they could be beneficial to you and your organization. This makes the connection more strategic and valuable to you and your business.
Market Yourself – For some, it can be difficult to praise yourself and your successes to the world. Remind yourself that you have just as much to offer at this networking event as everyone else there… that’s why you were on the guest list! People coming together sharing ideas from different experiences is what makes networking valuable to us all. Realize what you bring to the table that adds value for others.
Nonverbal Communication – While it is very important to choose your words wisely when pitching a new idea to someone, sometimes it’s what you don’t say that speaks volumes. While having a conversation with someone, always make eye contact with that person. Having your focus on them makes the person feel more validated, and will be more likely to open up to you and share information. Body language is also the key to appearing more confident and, in return, increasing others’ confidence in you. Be aware of fidgeting or moving around while speaking. A strong stance with your arms comfortably at your sides (not crossed!), and your feet firmly planted on the ground gives the impression of confidence and dependability.
Follow-up – After attending the event, it’s important to conduct follow-up emails to your new connections. Our founder, Eleni Sokos, suggests creating an email template for following up with new connections. Of course, this template should include friendly greetings, and mention common connections or opportunities for collaboration. Go one step further by customizing each follow-up email with a couple key tidbits that demonstrate your appreciation for the time you spent engaging with that person. Try to remember things like their spouse’s name or an upcoming vacation to establish a personal relationship. Always include a subtle call to action whether offering to buy them a coffee, or encouraging the person to join your company’s email list, or invite them to send you a Facebook friend request. These last steps in the process of making your networking goals become actions will help deliver results from your outreach efforts.
We hope that these tips to network will make the whole experience less intimidating to our more introverted friends. After all, networking is supposed to be fun and beneficial . When we come together to share ideas and innovate, we create a better community.
Our talented team of Marketing Rock Stars regularly attend networking events representing our clients in the community. If you would like to become one of our clients, email hello@sokossocial and let’s get networking!