14 Tips That Will Help You Network in Any Situation
What is the best way to network with people? How to network effectively? Read this article to learn how to get better at networking.
Networking is imperative to business success. Not only can successful networking get you a job, but you can also find investors, customers, and new employees. However, networking can be challenging, especially for introverts, who often feel uncomfortable or nervous in these social environments. But there is no need to worry! The key to effective networking is something you can learn.
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This article presents 14 ways to network so you can enter your next networking event with clear intent and confidence.
Networking is critical to business success. It can help you find work, investors, and customers. You may even recruit new employees.
Networking may seem intimidating to some, but by following our 14 best ways to network, you will be sure to enter your next event with a clear plan and improved self-esteem.
Some of our top tips include working on your LinkedIn profile, bringing business cards to networking events, and ensuring that you follow through on your promises.
14 ways to network with people
1. Work on your LinkedIn profile
In the modern world, LinkedIn is a must-have. If you have yet to create a profile, put it high on your priorities list. Begin by adding anyone you know, then add common connections, particularly those in your field of interest. By messaging a person of interest and outlining why you would like to connect, you are more likely to get a response.
One key benefit to LinkedIn is it gives you the ability to connect with people even if they do not live close to you (which is fantastic if you travel for work or work remotely). Another benefit to connecting with people on LinkedIn — and other professional networking platforms — is that when you meet someone in person, you can reference previous communications easily.
2. Avoid going overboard with social media
As mentioned in our previous tip, social media can be fantastic for professional networking when used sensibly. However, a big no-no is spam messaging. Nobody enjoys receiving spam, and it is immediately off-putting to potential connections.
Many people will delete messages if they even resemble spam. Therefore, consider who you are messaging and do not have an exclusively virtual contact list. You should also attend events and strive for face-to-face meetings.
3. Craft a solid elevator pitch
You should ensure you have a 30-second pitch prepared that you can use when introducing yourself. In the speech, try to include the following:
who you are;
what you are looking for;
how you are useful to others.
By having a pitch handy, you can give people a quick and concise answer when they ask about you. If you take too long to introduce yourself, people will lose interest.
4. Attend networking opportunities
Research online and look for any networking opportunities you can attend. You should go to as many professional events as possible and ensure you look smart to give the best possible impression. A valuable approach is to research the speakers and attendees before going to the event to establish some talking points. If you’re nervous when starting out, bringing a friend can be a great idea, as others will presume you know each other from a professional stance.
Did you know? It is a great idea to start networking before you need it. This ensures your networking has no ulterior motive. You will be able to form relationships and not have a reputation for being self-serving. When people attend networking events because they are desperate for connections, it can be spotted a mile away and is a big turn-off to others.
Extra tip: Arguably, the best place to stand at an event is where people are being served refreshments. This is because they will have a drink in hand and be ready to socialize, and you will be in a perfect position to initiate a conversation.
5. Be genuine
You should not put on an act and pretend to be someone you’re not. If you are introverted, you do not need to act like you are more confident than you feel. It is more important that you act as yourself rather than put on a persona.
People at the event will want to get to know the real you and confirm you are genuine, or you will come across as untrustworthy. If you come off as slightly nervous at an event, that’s okay. The other person might be just as anxious as you. Never compromise yourself to try and impress others.
6. Remember the importance of the name tag
When you get to an event, one of the first things you do is fill out a name tag. This is critical to get right as it gives off an immediate impression of you to others. Look at what other attendees have written, whether there are only first names or full names with job descriptions included. This way, you can avoid standing out like a sore thumb.
However, what happens if you meet a connection again and they don’t have a name tag this time? This is why it is important to try and remember people’s names as well. A great technique is associating the person with a unique body or facial feature in your head, making the name easier to recall.
7. Have your business cards handy
Business cards are an essential tool for networking. They are a great way of giving someone your name so they remember you. Cards can be especially useful if you are anxious. Do not be afraid to offer someone a card before they ask for yours, and inform them that they can reach out. They will likely return the favor, and you have then made a new contact.
It is important to be organized with business cards too. It gives off a bad impression if you are rifling through your things, scrambling for your card. Have them in an easily accessible area, such as a pocket in your bag. Delegate another place for other people’s business cards. That way, the exchange is seamless, and you will never lose a card again.
Extra tip: Call people by their names straightaway in conversation. It makes them feel at ease and shows you are being attentive.
8. Remember that everyone faces rejection
It is impossible to please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you, and vice versa. When networking, you will meet people uninterested in helping you, such as those who are obnoxious or ‘too busy’ to talk to you. But, just because you had a bad or unpleasant interaction does not mean you are networking poorly. It happens to everyone and is an unavoidable part of the networking process.
9. Ask open-ended questions
When networking, you must always allow the person you are trying to connect with to have the chance to speak. If you dominate the conversation, they may feel you are uninterested in what they think. A great way to open up a conversation and connect with someone is to ask open-ended questions. For instance:
How do you like the event so far?
How is business going for you?
How did you get into your line of work?
This is a great way to get the other person talking and leading the conversation. It makes you seem interested in them as well as eager and genuine. Asking open-ended questions allows you to find things in common, which is our next tip.
10. Identify common interests
A great way to pique someone’s interest and build a connection is to find something in common. For instance, you might have studied at the same university, you could support the same sports team, or maybe you’ve traveled to some of the same places. This technique makes networking more enjoyable and less like hard work. Focus on building genuine connections rather than looking for people who may be able to help you.
11. Demonstrate your usefulness
People are always busy, so give them a convincing reason to meet with you by demonstrating your usefulness. For example, find a topic the person is interested in and provide a solution by sharing a story of how you helped someone else in the same boat. Explain briefly about the problem and how you fixed it.
Another great tip is to ask near the end of a conversation how you can help them. This is an underused tactic, and while the person may not have an immediate response, they might think of something later. Once the exchange is over, offer your business card and express your interest in helping if they need anything.
12. Do not disregard anyone
You should aim to find value in every person you engage with. A common mistake is to dismiss someone because of their job title. Someone might be a ‘trainee,’ but they may have deep knowledge or strong connections. It is foolish to underestimate somebody without learning more about them.
13. Follow through on your promises
You must follow through on your promises. For instance, if you said you would contact someone, ensure you do so promptly and reiterate your eagerness to help. If you promised to introduce two people to each other, make sure you do. It doesn’t take up much of your time, but it helps build your reputation as reliable and true to their word. Plus, while they might not require your services now, they may do in the future, and now you have given them a means of contacting you.
14. Introduce your connections to each other
Once you interact with people and learn about them, you might start to think about how one person in the room could assist another. It is an excellent idea to connect people you think provide value to one another as it helps make the event successful and shows you to be helpful and attentive. This can also be done outside of networking events, as it might occur to you a few days later about particularly valuable introductions.
Check out our ten best networking books article to learn more about networking.
Believe in the strength of networking
Networking is an incredibly powerful tool in the business world. When you understand that the strength of networking is in ensuring you help others and fulfilling (and surpassing) expectations on your side, you will witness connections and opportunities flourishing around you. By following our 14 ways to network, you can learn how to get better at networking and make those vital connections.
Running a business — not to mention networking — can feel like a 24/7 venture. Finding time in the day to work on self-development, self-growth, and increasing business knowledge can be challenging. But, Headway provides the perfect solution.
The Headway app provides 15-minute book summaries, personalized features, daily insights, and more. It is a fun, and simple approach to learning that helps you grow on the go. Our website also has book lists on various categories, including Business and Networking, and offers articles with advice and tips to improve your business acumen.
Don’t let a busy schedule hold you back from learning, and get started on your journey of self-growth with the bite-sized Headway app today.
How do I network if I hate networking?
The best approach is to be prepared, like having an elevator pitch ready, and think of it as an opportunity to build genuine connections and further yourself. If you feel uncomfortable, finding common ground and asking open-ended questions is a great way of letting the other person guide the conversation.
How do I start networking?
A great way to start is to build and grow your LinkedIn profile. You should also strive to attend as many job fairs and professional events as possible.
Is networking hard to learn?
Networking can be challenging, especially for those without the gift of the gab. However, by following our best 14 ways to network, you can learn how to network successfully and feel more comfortable and confident for your next connection.