Give More to Get More Out of Networking

December 22nd, 2015

Networking may be the most essential skill you will ever learn as a professional. However, many of the ideas that we have about networking are antiquated. The question, “what’s in it for me?” is no longer the most important question that you can ask yourself. Instead, you might want to start thinking about how you can best serve those you meet. Here is how you can give more to get more out of networking.

Be interested, not interesting.

Many people default to talking about themselves. While you might actually be the most interesting person in the world, the best way to connect with others is not to dominate the conversation. Instead, start asking others about themselves. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say and ask questions that help facilitate further conversation. More importantly, remember these details so you can follow up later, whether it’s that day or in the future.

Be a connector.

One of the best ways to facilitate additional connections is to figure out who you can introduce your new contact with in your current network. They may not be able to help you right away, but they may be able to help someone else. This not only strengthens the new connection but will enhance your other business relationships as well. Making that connection doesn’t have to be right away, but it can be days, weeks or even months down the line.

Ask for contact information.

Far too often people are concerned about passing out their own business cards at networking events. Instead, make it your mission to gather more business cards than you give away. Better yet, rather than asking for a card, pull out your phone and enter their information directly into your contacts. You even can quickly add their name to a note on your phone to contact your new connections in the near future.

Always follow up.

Finally, the day after any event where you’ve met new people, make an effort to follow up with them. Send a short thank-you note for taking the time to talk with you. Offer them opportunities to connect in the future, and remind them of the conversation that you had. All of this will help continue the connection past the initial meeting. Far too many people don’t follow up after networking events.

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