Successful networking is about building meaningful relationships with like-minded industry professionals. When done right, it can introduce you to suitable industry contacts, strengthen your brand image, and also lead to new clients. To help you make the most out of any networking opportunity, here are five tips for a positive and lasting first impression.
1. Be prepared
Preparation is the key to success. When it comes to networking, this means having the right supplies (e.g. business cards, smart devices) onboard when leaving the house. You should also gather some background information on hosts and guests, as well as prepare to talk about yourself and your work – a lot. If you are the type of person who gets flustered meeting new people, consider rehearsing what you will say ahead of the event.
2. Ask questions
Being an engaging conversationalist is key to making a good impression. People will be flattered if you show a genuine interest in their work and their experiences, and they will be more comfortable talking about themselves. Asking them questions will keep the conversation flowing naturally and will give you the opportunity to listen and learn.
3. Make notes
At big networking events, it’s easy to lose track of everyone you’ve spoken to. Conversation partners change very quickly, so be sure to make some notes about the people you meet. They could contain points you discussed or a little about the person themselves. This way, you’ll have something to refer to if you want to get in touch later.
4. Be thankful
At the end of every good chat, be sure to thank the person for the talk and any advice they might have shared with you. By demonstrating you appreciate their time, you are more likely to leave them with a positive impression.
5. Follow up
Be sure to drop new connections a note in the days after meeting them. The more personal, the better. Try to refer to one or two things you discussed. As networking events are busy places, they will appreciate your impeccable memory. From there, it’s up to both of you to uphold your new connection through regular catch-ups.
Whether you’re attending an industry event or hosting your own, these tips will help you make a lasting impression that could very well result in exciting, new business opportunities. After all, it’s often not about what you know, but who you know.