Boost your reputation and make your presence felt with these helpful tips. By Satyaki Sarkar
From building connections to discovering potential opportunities, solutions, future partner or even employer, networking has countless benefits. To help you out, here are the five most effective ways to make the most of business networking events
1. Prepare yourself
When it comes to business networking, every opportunity could be a potential game changer for your career and business, by discovering mentors, talented employees, new technologies, and more. As such, you need to be fully prepared to utilise that opportunity to the best of your ability to get the most out of your interactions. So, before you go to a networking event you need to shortlist the kind of people you would like to meet, who’d give you the most value for your time, the issues you want to talk about, and the questions you want to ask. It also helps if you have a proper introduction ready, so that you can precisely articulate what you do, your business, its goal and how you go about achieving those goals. This helps you open a conversation and continue it with ease, while letting the other person know exactly what you are looking for from the interaction.
2. Be involved
In the corporate world, even at social gatherings and events, people tend to notice those who are involved and showcasing higher participation than the other guests. So it is always a good idea to be actively involved at an event. You can meet speakers/panellists after their sessions and discuss their talk in more detail, or better still sign up as one of the speakers, offer to moderate a panel discussion, or participate in a roundtable. This gives you an air of authority and credibility, which makes people want to approach you when they need any information. The information that you provide, then becomes the perfect ice breaker you need o drive the conversation towards what you have in mind, while also utilising the chance to display the work that you have been doing at your organisation, and collaborate with them to gain insights on how you can do it better.
3. Offer help for free
The aim of business networking is always to gain something out of it, be it a beneficial connection, advice, or knowledge. As such, everyone attending these events go to them with a goal-driven mindset. So, the great way to build connections is by offering to help them attain that goal. Offer free help, be it helping them out with a particular problem they have been struggling with, forwarding them useful information, or even taking a look at how they can improve certain aspects of their operations. This help forms a deeper connection than a casual interaction and they’re quietly likely to view you favourably and repay the favour at a later date. A little bit of give and take is key to successful business networking.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
The very point of networking is to gather knowledge by initiating conversations. This involves asking questions about the person’s profile, work done, difficulties faced, solutions discovered, learnings, etc. Thus, at a networking event you can’t afford to be asocial and timid. Whether you are an extrovert or introvert, you need to find ways to engage in conversations and build relationships. You need to ask direct, open-ended questions, and dig deeper when you see a potential opportunity.
5. Focus on quality rather than quantity
Networking events, by nature, are on a large scale and it is definitely not possible for you to speak to each and every one attending. Therefore, that shouldn’t be your priority. Rather than stacking up on numbers, try to focus on those that bring value. If you’ve done your research, you know who you’d like to connect with, so seek them out and close the loop. An informed, informative discussion with a few people is better than hurried a conversation with 10 people. It creates a touch point that you can later use for a follow-up, and increases recall value.
Photograph: Katemangostar – Freepik.com