Matthew Pomar
by on March 20, 2018
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The word “networking” has taken on a negative image because some multi-level marketing companies put it in a bad light. The promise of earning approximately $1,000 weekly does not sound bad at all, especially if all you have to do to reel in the cash is “network”. This is rather unfortunate because networking is actually a good thing, and it can help you in so many ways be it for business or recreation.

That's if you know how to do it properly.

People in business have a love and hate relationship with networking. It can be a daunting task for introverts and an energy-draining activity for the extroverts. However, knowing how to grow and maintain a network should be right at the top of the priority list of these business professionals.

One way to grow your own professional network is to surround yourself with people who are diverse and engaging. Set your inhibitions aside and put yourself out there because that's the only way for you to meet these people. They can help you attract the right contacts, access job opportunities, and win business deals.

We listed a few more tips for you:

Attend Events, but Know Which Ones to Prioritize

Professional organizations often organize events to provide opportunities and create a space for people to link with other people in the industry. These are offered to the dedicated members of the group, which means that the people you meet in these events mean business. Some industry-specific niche groups also organize meet-ups at least once a month. Albeit small, the setup offers a more intimate approach to networking, where people really have the time to sit down, talk, and exchange ideas.

Both events are beneficial for anyone wanting to start their own business networking group. Now this doesn't mean that you should attend every single networking event because that wouldn't be practical. Do your research first, look at the profile of the people attending the event and assess if it's the right one for you.

Post Your Whereabouts

Let people know that you're going to an event and use their hashtags when you post. A simple confirmation lets you in on other people's networks before the actual event begins. Using the hashtag allows you to keep track of your post, and trace if it has been re-posted, re-tweeted, or liked. This also gives you a reason to interact with other people.

You may even want to go the extra mile and go live on Facebook or Instagram during the event. People who are already in your network will see what you're doing and might even link you with people from their circle. Friendly reminder: ask for permission from the organizers before you go live.

What Are Your Goals?

These events run for a maximum of eight hours so you need to make use of every minute that you're there. Be clear with your intentions, remember why you decided to go, and ensure that you leave the event with at least one lead. If that's too much, then try to get at least five business cards from people who are open to meeting you again after the event.

You do not need to write down these goals. The reason why you're setting them is so that you don't waste time. It's always tempting to just sit down, bask in the ambiance and enjoy the food when you're in these events so it's always good to set goals that you can actually attain.

It's Not About You, It's About What You Can Bring to the Table

Before meeting other people, it's always good to ask why they need to keep you in their network. What can you offer? Do you have jobs for them? What is it about you that will make them want to keep you?

Try not to think too much about what you can get from meeting others. Instead, focus on what you can bring to the table. Contribute value, and the rest will just follow.

Set a Criteria

People will offer different things when you meet them, so you should always know what you're looking for. Searching for leads requires knowing what kind of leads you need in your network. This helps you determine how much energy and time should be spent with every person you meet. If you find that the one you met does not match your needs, keep the communication lines open because they just might be able to link you with the right people. Learn to assess if a conversation is beneficial for both parties or not.

Prepare your Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is kind of your 30-second commercial where you squeeze in all the information that you can within the time limit. When you're creating your business networking group, people will always ask you about your work, and when that happens, you will want to leave a good impression. Know how you can best discuss what you're doing without overwhelming the listener. Be articulate, but keep your spiel short and simple.

Be Relaxed When Talking to New People

Learn how to be comfortable when talking to strangers. Find the balance between putting yourself out there, and learning to hold back so as not to interrupt existing conversations. Look for opportunities to start conversations. If you notice someone sitting by themselves, approach them and introduce yourself. If you wish to jump in a conversation, do so with caution. Bear in mind the topic of the conversation and check if you can chime in with something that's relevant to the topic.

Dare to Ask

The one topic that people love to talk about is themselves. Take advantage of this by asking them to tell you about their jobs, the place they live, why they do what they do, how they heard about the event, etc. One way to create a deep connection with another person is by asking questions. This will also move the conversation towards the direction that you prefer.