Improve your networking skills and learn to use them to your advantage.
We’ve all heard heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” After working with entrepreneurs for several years, I have learned that to be true. Networking involves interacting with others and knowing how to communicate effectively. What does it take to make an impression that works to build a powerful professional network?
Here are 5 things I have learned from a serial networker. 1. Introduce yourself with your full name.
It feels ridiculous and a bit formal at first, but it’s powerful. The goal is to make it easier for others to remember you. You might be amazed by how differently people treat you when you say your first and last name. It’s memorable, and it’s the difference between making an uninspired connection and a surprisingly great one. After all, it’s likely he or she knows people with your first name, but nobody with your first and last name.
2. Always have business cards on hand.
A business card adds legitimacy to who you are, what you represent, and what makes you unique. Sure, we live in the Digital Age where everyone has a smartphone, but that does not negate the ease of a business card. A lot of networking still happens face-to-face, and not all interactions allow time for inputting contact info into an iPhone. How much faster is it to simply hand someone a business card?
3. Find reasons to follow up.
Build on your connections. If you want to establish rapport, find reasons to keep the relationship alive. When you add new connections to your contact list, be sure to include notes on your conversation, as well as when and where you met. If you read an article that adds to a discussion you had together, send it to them with a brief note on what you found interesting and how you think it could benefit them. Try to do this periodically throughout the year with people in your network.
4. Keep your online presence up to date.
Your online presence, such as your LinkedIn profile, is seen as an endorsement of who you are and who you’ve had professional relationships with in the past. To use it effectively, update your LinkedIn on a frequent basis to help you connect with peers, other professionals, and opportunities relevant to your business and goals. Additionally, recruiters and potential investors or clients often use social media to check out your skills and experience.
5. Don’t forget to help others.
Networking is not just about you. Learn how you can help each new connection. Whether it’s sharing knowledge or your resources, some of the best clients, partners, and relationships come from helping someone else. Networking can be a lot of big talk. Someone may have a great contact or client, but never makes the introduction. Make an effort to stay true to your word and send out intros. However, keep your credibility in tact - make sure to advocate for legitimate people and businesses. Networking can lead to unimaginable possibilities. There’s give and take, but it’s amazing what you can learn from others and their experiences. Understand the power of relationships and communication, and in turn you’ll find inspiration and opportunity.