A successful business not only upholds its business practices and quality of service, but it also values business networking. An entrepreneur understands this importance of networking, and uses it like a pro. Amidst all the elevator pitch, and conversation starters, there is a hidden need of networking, tap into this innate need and you have a fruitful professional relationship setup for life. There are several ways to get better at networking, some of which I will discuss here, and it might offer a solution to your endearing question, “how to improve networking skills?”
Don’t think of networking as work, but rather a necessity.
The best place to strike up a conversation is at a networking event. This is a place where representatives of several businesses gather under one roof, some of them might be business owners themselves.
You all know why you are here, but there is no need to be quite materialistic either! The conversation starters should be strictly about you and them on a personal level, not about business practice or company’s financial statements.
Connect with the person you are speaking to on a casual level, and don’t feel distracted by other motives, such as business profits or client acquisition. Don’t approach someone with a pre-prepared conversation starters or elevator pitch, simply let the networking take place as if you were talking to your neighbour.
Begin the talk on a first name basis with self-introduction and ask about what interested them into pursuing this line of work. Avoid jumping to the concluding stage of exchanging contact info, it’s quite impersonal when you use a platform like this to collect someone’s network card. Instead, form a memorable impression in their minds and let your charm do the rest.
Avoid mixing your business goals with professional networking.
Business networking groups and networking events exist for the sole purpose of prospective co-operation between two or more parties. Colluding personal corporate agenda with professional networking, for example “I am going to land two clients by lunch hour,” will not get you the desired outcome.
Your ultimate agenda may be to procure a certain amount of network cards whom you will put into good use at a later date, but if you are hellbent on pushing forward relentlessly, you may lose these connections altogether.
A business built on interpersonal skills demands your utmost professional soft skills to form an everlasting relationship with the prospective clients.
Don’t forget your manners. Talk less, and listen more!
If networking basics could be summed up into one phrase, it would be: ‘Talk less, and Listen more!’
Talking less does not mean you should be a mute, nor should you be a blabber-mouth! Practice the art of soft skills, interpersonal skills and read up a few books and articles on how to improve business skills, if needed.
If you are a budding entrepreneur, these networking events could be quite useful to you. It all depends on how you can turn it into your favour by only using your communication skills. Talking a lot about yourself is quite immature and often sidelined by more seasoned businessmen. If you strike a conversation with someone, ask questions but time them well, and ensure that your follow-ups are in accordance with what they are saying. You don’t want to be asking the same thing again!
Listen to them intently and don’t lose eye contact! If you see someone you know, just say “Excuse me please, I’ll be back in a minute.”
Your manners, body language and general attitude attract people towards you, not your qualifications, what business you are in, or how much you make.
In conclusion, tapping into these basic instincts & advices can prove instrumental in bringing tons of business and clients for you startup. Moreover, if someone wants to give you their network card willingly, it is a sign that they want to hear more from you and perhaps form a business connection with you. In such cases, make sure you follow-up without a miss, and even use a reminder to call them on your phone after you immediately save their contact information.