Networking is already a celebrated norm in the business world. In fact, networking can happen in any of the following places and events:
- Business Travel
- A conference
- A large networking event
A person does not always know where or when his next collaboration may appear. He might be traveling for work, or even be in the home city attending a conference or a large event, being ready to talk about the work he does and the opportunities he is looking for may result in options that did not exist before.
So, one must learn to maximize the possibility for connection and collaboration anytime, anywhere. With practice he would be able to recognize that he can actually connect professionally with someone in almost any situation. For instance, a simple polite gesture like acknowledging the person sitting next to you while on an airplane can also lead to an amazing connection eventually.
In case of layovers, an exceptionally long cocktail hour at a conference or a wait at a professional dinner between courses, maximize the time.
It is important to be aware of what is going around a person. There are chances that he might run into someone who shares the same interest as him, or they might be wearing the logo of your his brand. If one notices any of these things, he should use it as a conversation starter. That is the chance to connect with them, and get to know them. Also this helps to let others know about his presence. What book someone is reading or what newspaper they are looking at, the logo of a company you recognize, one should say something. One must be observant to recognize and capitalize on an opportunity. It might be at a friend’s dinner party or a professional convention, but the end goal remains the same. One never knows where he might meet someone who can impact his career, so it is important to be alert at all times. Ofcourse this does not mean one needs to be passing around business cards to everyone at some family functions, but he can certainly chat about his work and in case he senses synergy, he must be sure to get contact info so he can connect in an appropriate setting.
Dress professionally and act politely
Even when one is hurrying to catch an early or late flight for a business trip, being super casual wearing leggings or ripped sweats is not ideal. One need not have to wear a dress, jacket or skirt, but he should look polished all times.
Moreover, one should never create a scene with any staff at a hotel, airline, anywhere by being loud or rude. Not only is that a bad practice for anyone at any time, but if one makes himself memorable for the wrong reasons, it could come back to haunt him the wrong way. It is never good to get intoxicated on a plane or any networking event as he would not know who is noticing.
One must make sure he is not sending the wrong signals – he is not flirting or digging for personal info – he is looking to make a networking connection with other professionals. In case one feels it may be misinterpreted, be sure to clarify, though subtly.
Be confident, not awkward
Confidence is the key in all conversations across all parties. When one comes off as awkward, too forceful, pushy, or overly rehearsed, then people notice but unfortunately for the wrong reason. Even aimless conversations can be a turn-off to whoever one might be trying to network with. Awkwardness tends to happen in aimless conversations as he is not sure what to talk about. No one wants to jump right in to the hard pitch, so he essentially ends up meandering. Thus one should try and let the conversation evolve naturally. Eliminating awkwardness by erasing off aimlessness should be the purpose of a conversation. Every conversation should have a purpose- the purpose is not to sell oneself, but to search for commonalities between himself and the other person.
Tell your story, but not too much
It is okay to tell stories, but one should not push too hard. If the storytelling turns to bragging, people would notice.One can ask the other person questions, and hear them out patiently while they answer. As one builds a personal connection of understanding, he might be rewarded with special opportunities that can take him and his business role to new heights. No one wants to have a narrative set to go when someone asks him what to do. It is good to be brief. No one should take over a conversation and talk about himself and his own business. People want to feel that the listener is genuinely interested in them. Ask questions to get to know the other person and understand what they do.
Try to be intentional, but don’t forget to be low key on that
Nobody is so desperate to to scan for business opportunities or possible allies in every lobby or airport gate. But he should be ready for casual conversation that could result in some professional advantages. One must try to be authentic and simply try to make a new friend. This takes the pressure off, allows one to be yourself and leads to stronger connections.
Exchange contact information
Printed business cards are still in vogue as it seems to reach places and everywhere someone or the other asks for them. So it is good to have them ready in one’s pocket, briefcase or purse so you do not have to any digging, which might look really silly and unprofessional.
One can also swap digital information – Digital business cards have recently gained momentum, since the growth of technology. There are a few advantages to this digital approach. The people who receive the digital calling card would have your number and other information right on their device. The sender can also have their mobile number. This is a simple but effective way to stay connected with people whom we meet at business events or during the course of everyday life.
One of the best ways to network ahead of an event or how to network online is to leverage on social media, especially LinkedIn.
- The Aim is Business – While one should not be 100% about business, but also he should not be 100% social. In fact, there has to be a balance between the two. In other words, half-social and half-business oriented conversation is a winner. If one of them overpowers the other, there might be risk of sending interested parties the wrong signals. The main goal here is to be both intentional and authentic when networking with people.
Networking can seem like idle small talk, and a vehicle for self-gain at its worst. But if done intentionally and authentically, networking can lead to long-term collaborations and partnerships and even help organizations share resources and enjoy success. At its best, it helps create new collaborations for a work, plant seeds for the future and pass the time pleasantly while the transit time for a delayed flight or the time before beginning of a conference.
Networking creates long and lasting relationships with others. It is rewarding and the connections one can make can be very useful in the future. Due to the worldwide pandemic situation, networking had to start being online which unfolded some other benefits, for example, no distance barrier, etc.
Working on the online profile of social networking sites is also very important since is the only way that possible future connections would see a person.