Face-to-face networking remains indispensable in today’s business environment, even with the proliferation of digital communication channels. According to an employee survey, a resounding 82% of Singapore professionals consider business networking to be vital to career success.
Networking situations often involve meeting new people and having to establish rapport quickly. Having the right networking techniques can benefit everyone, whether you are an extrovert or introvert. With practice, anyone can grow to become a more confident, effective networker. Here’s how you can take your networking skills to the next level:
1. Plan for success
Before heading out to a networking event, ensure that you:
- Set your objectives for attending, such as whom you would like to connect with to share more about your company
- Bring your name-cards and prepare a brief self-introduction that clearly articulates your elevator pitch
- Research potential prospects on LinkedIn beforehand to facilitate a better engagement
2. Make a meaningful connection
Networking is about developing a genuine connection with fellow professionals based on common interests and shared experiences. Sincerity is important as people can usually tell whether the other party is truly interested in connecting with them. Focus on building relationships, and always make a point to:
- Listen attentively and maintain eye contact with the other party
- Give others the chance to speak so everyone gets to participate in the conversation
- Be sensitive to nonverbal cues as they indicate how others are reacting to what you’re saying. For example, when a person’s eyes are wandering around, it might indicate that the other party is losing interest in the conversation and you could change the topic.
Paying attention to others helps you to better understand how you can fulfil their needs — whether by offering your own expertise and advice, or by providing a referral to one of your personal contacts.
3. Benefit from a change of scenery
Networking doesn’t have to always take place in a formal setting. A meaningful conversation can also happen over coffee at informal venues such as restaurants, bars and cafes. Introducing a change of scenery can be appealing, especially among today’s young working professionals.
If you are catching up with business prospects, you might be pleasantly surprised by how switching up the meeting environment can help your clients feel more at ease, create talking points, and facilitate conversations.
4. Remember to follow up
Follow-up is essential, especially for new contacts to remember you—utilise the opportunity to sustain your relationship with that person. If the discussion requires immediate action, follow through on your promise as soon as you can, so you can keep the momentum going while leaving a positive impression.
Lastly, always remember to thank the other person for taking the time to meet up with you. A sincere thank-you goes a long way towards helping you foster a long-lasting relationship with other business professionals.
Networking like a professional is about putting the needs of your prospects first, as people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Start using these networking tips to create a powerful business network.