Business networking isn’t all winging and wining, business cards and elevator pitches. Most people don’t even like networking. I get it, after a long work day, the thought of having to make conversation with a room full of strangers seems like another big chore. However, the negative stigma to business networking has to stop because it is vital to the progression of your career.
Time after time, the most successful people that I meet are also the best networkers. They realize that business networking is a tool and they have found a way to make it work for them. Now, it is no longer a task for them and they can do it with ease. Just follow these three tips to get yourself started.
- It’s not formal anymore
First of all, there is no rule that says that you need to network over a glass of wine in a hotel ballroom and exchange business cards. Networking can happen whenever, wherever and however you want it to happen. It can take place at a birthday party, during a workout or volunteering with your family on the weekend. Pick your favorite activities and find groups that share those passions and join them. This will help make you feel more relaxed and naturally confident – you’ll find yourself making better, more positive impressions.
- Set measurable goals
I know what you’re thinking, what kind of goals? Here you go: At the beginning of each month, write down a number of events that you want to attend over the next 30 days. Feel free to vary them according to work and personal commitments. Next, select which industries or organization that you want to network. What do you hope to achieve? Meet new people, learn best practices, promote your business? Decide and keep a running log of your progress. You’ll be able to maximize your time and energy because you won’t feel the need to go to every event invitation that you receive.
- Maintain relationships
Remember that meeting someone once doesn’t mean anything. The relationship happens during the follow up. To help support this, keep a list of the people you meet with details such as their work, interests and anything else that will help you remember the connection. Make your first email to them memorable, something that will make them think or laugh. Review this list of people every three months and reach out to them again, share a resource or invite them to another networking event.
It is not about the number of people you know, but how well you know them and even more important, how well they know you. Don’t waste any opportunities, get going!