What does a good networker do? This is a vital question for an entrepreneur. You know those mixers and events that keep cropping up into your schedule? Don’t avoid them. Engage with intention. Go into networking opportunities with specific goals that will enhance your business.
Networking isn’t about having a boisterous, glad-handing, insincere personality. It’s about your knowledge, your attitude, and instinct. You must go into a networking situation with firm goals in mind, and a plan to accomplish those goals.
A good networker is outgoing, friendly, supportive, a good listener, and most importantly sincere. If you are not a natural networker, one of your primary goals at networking events should be to observe good networkers – talk to them and learn how to be as successful as they are at establishing contacts.
If you find yourself in a large number of one-sided conversations – whether you are shy and not contributing to the conversation or you are running your mouth and not letting the other person talk, you are not networking effectively. Each conversation should be well balances – with you both giving and receiving valuable information. Many people who are trying to get past shyness at networking events will find themselves giving referrals exclusive to other people they know, without doing anything toward their own personal gain.
Those who find themselves the only speaker in a conversation often do much the opposite, never giving valuable information to the other people in the conversation and only talking about themselves, which ultimately makes them a less-valuable contact.
Instead of being shy or talking over everyone else, you should make a concerted effort to engage in real conversation with other people at events, conversations where all parties come away having learned something new and valuable about each other and the value they will see continuing contact with one another.
Another part of your plan for networking should be business cards. When you make good networking contacts you should exchange business cards and make an effort to follow up with each other at a later date. This will help cement you as a contact in the other person’s network and ensure that you are remembered long after the event.
One thing many people forget is research. In general you will find that the same people attend the same networking and trade show events regularly. You can make note of some of the power players who are regular attendees at the events you go to, and learn more about them. It can be helpful to make a list of the best contacts you would like to meet, so at future meetings you can make plans specifically geared toward meeting and interacting with the people you have identified as having the most potential to help you and your business grow.
When you network with intention, keep to your goals and learn to give as well as learn in your conversations with others at networking events and trade shows, you will grow your skills at networking and establish valuable contacts who will continue to support you and your company’s growth through referrals just as you support theirs.