Connecting and Exchanging Information as a Form of Advertising
Networking is an art and one of the best skills that a person can have for success in both business and social situations. There are events specifically designed for networking purposes. However, networking can happen at any event. Following some basic rules can lead to successful contacts. However, it should be remembered that it is not the number of contacts but the quality of the trust built up with the contacts that pay dividends.
Networking Events and Functions
First impressions are very important and dressing to suit the occasion or event is essential when meeting new people. If it is a purely business event then the clothing should project a professional image. It is not appropriate to be casually dressed even if it is an “after hours” function.
Apart from events or functions especially organized for networking, most other functions are networking opportunities. Attending as many events or functions as possible not only gives the opportunity to meet more and more new people it also helps to develop the necessary self-confidence and networking skills. Also meeting people more than once helps to be remembered.
When attending any function or event, taking along a good supply of business cards is a must. The business card must be professional and have all the relevant information pertaining to the company and contact details.
If it is a business networking event, then it is also appropriate to take along brochures or flyers about the company, service or product that is being promoted. Most business networking events also provide a “promotional table” where participants can display relevant literature.
Enhancing and Developing Communication and Listening Skills
Communication is the key to networking. Speaking to as many people as possible is what networking is all about. Being able to introduce oneself and converse on many topics or subjects makes it easier to interact with different people. Inviting people to join in the conversation and introducing others to a group will also help to develop rapport.
Most people love to talk and a good listener can glean a lot of information that can be useful for business in the future. Being able to ask open-ended questions and listening to the responses is a valuable tool. After listening to what people are saying it may be possible to link it to one’s business. This gives the opportunity to tell the contacts about the product or service that is being offered by the company.
Post-Networking Action Plan
Attending and meeting a number of people at a function should be followed by some planned follow-up to keep the relationship. Some simple ways would be:
- a phone call,
- a “nice to meet you” card,
- sending some information that the recipient might find useful.
It would also be helpful to keep a diary of the people and relevant information as a memory jogger. When meeting someone, referring to a previous meeting helps establish instant rapport.
Since networking is now a very common business practice, learning and mastering the various elements necessary for making and keeping successful contacts will be invaluable professionally and socially.