Network Training

Want to maximize your networking experience? Here are eleven personal tips that are sure to help.

One of the occasions where an elevator pitch are very useful to have, is at a networking event. So now that you (hopefully) have got your elevator pitch down to a T, here’s a few personal tips on how to network like a boss.

  1. Be genuine. No matter what your goal is, just be yourself and let the conversation move naturally towards wherever it’s already heading. When you’re meeting new people, they want to get a sense of who you are as a person. If they’re interested they’ll eventually change the subject to your professional life without you accidentally making it awkward. Whatever you do, don’t hijack someone else’s conversation because you “just want to say hi”. Introduce yourself, smile and wait until it’s your turn to speak.

  2. Look your best. Someone once told me, that you should dress the way you want to be. You want to be corporate? Find your best power suit, iron the shirt and polish your shoes. Dress in what makes you feel your most confident and relaxed. When you know you’re looking good, you’ll feel and appear more confident. According to a Harvard study of communications it only takes seven seconds to make a first impression. So unless you can pitch yourself AND your brilliant idea in six seconds, you better look like you’re worth the extra dough.

  3. Ask questions. Everyone loves talking about themselves. If you’re a good listener, use this to your advantage. By asking questions you’ll be steering the conversation to wherever you want it to go, which gives you the natural edge of controlling what subject will be discussed. This doesn’t work, however, if you’re not interested in what the person is saying because no matter how good you think you are, you can’t hide your disinterest- even from new acquaintances.

  4. Give something. Most people think that Networking is about receiving. “What can he do for me? How can she help me get started with..” etc. It really isn’t though. Networking is about giving. If you give someone something – connect them with a potential prospect, share knowledge or tips and tricks – without asking for anything in return, that gesture is something that sticks with people. Most people will remember you when you come calling for a favor or a meet-up some day in the future. It’s like the old saying: What goes around comes around.

  5. Smile. Just enjoy yourself! If you’re not smiling and enjoying yourself, you might as well grab your phone and start texting mid-conversation – It sends the exact same signal: you don’t want to be here. Speaking of phones:

  6. Set your phone to silent. When networking and meeting new people, turn your phone to silent. There’s very few instances where it’s okay to take an incoming phone call mid-conversation. Besides, you’ll be outside the loop once your phone call is over, and chances are that whoever you were talking to have now moved on to another subject with different prospects.

  7. Don’t be afraid. I traveled across the atlantic ocean alone to backpack my way across eastern and central Canada, not thinking twice about how I was going to be meeting new people: I would be forced to it. It’s the exact same thing with networking events: don’t bring a friend. He or she will simply be a crutch that you lean against, making meeting new people harder than it has to be. Besides: two is a crowd, and harder to approach for those who didn’t bring a friend. Force yourself to meet new people, that’s the whole point of the event.

  8. Be bold. When meeting potential prospects, Alexander Macdonald, CEO of Hindsight Vision Ltd. has found that having a clear statement – something that can be refuted if tested – prompts your recipient to ask critical questions that gives your elevator pitch enough edge to be interesting. If your recipient takes the bait and asks questions regarding your preposterous statement, make sure you have the right answer up your sleeve. Not only does it make you look professional and well thought out, but it gives the impression that you’ve actually put thought into your work and therefore helps build trust.

  9. Always carry a business card. Especially if you work in a specific field of expertise. Whether you meet someone at a spinning class, a hiking trip, a gas station, on the train or at the soccer match, some eccentrics will come up to you, ask you what you do, say “that’s interesting” and ask for a business card, then immediately leave thereafter. If you don’t have a business card, how are they supposed to remember you? They’re cheap to order, and not that hard to make. You can check out for inspiration.

  10. Follow up. Don’t promise you’ll be in contact if you’re not going to. The least you can do, is go home and spend an hour on LinkedIn hunting down your new contacts, linking up with them and telling them it was great meeting them – even if you honestly don’t feel that way. The Balance wrote a piece on how and when you should follow up after a networking event. You can read the article here.

  11. Know when to quit. It’s not a networking event, if you only speak to one or two people. If someone is holding you up, wait for them to pause their rambling, politely use that pause and say something like “Thanks for the chat, it was a pleasure. I am going to go and mingle with the rest of the room. Here’s my card, don’t hesitate to reach out”. Then smile – genuinely – and move on with purpose. You’ll be doing both parties a service.

So all in all:

Dress for the occasion, be present, be genuine, smile, ask questions, follow up on LinkedIn or over a cup of coffee and know when to quit.

And also, don’t be that guy who rambles on and on – respect your recipient and make it short. Otherwise you’re not getting that meeting afterwards, and that’s the whole reason you’re talking in the first place.

Do this, and you’ll do just fine in the world of networking.

Until next week, Have a Pitcherific Day!

Chris Overgaard Nielsen

Chris Overgaard Nielsen | Guest Blogger

Chris is a M.A. in Sociology and an expert in Cognitive Capitalism and applied Knowledge Sociology. Recently he's branched out into business development, insight research and online marketing. He enjoys long sleep-ins and short walks to the refrigerator.

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