You’re not really a natural talent when it comes to socialising. It’s not that you don’t like to meet new people, you just don’t know what to say when put on the spot. You’re more of a ‘thinker’ so by the time someone asks (at a networking event) “Hey, tell me more about your business” your brain decides to produce about ‘99 answers’ at the same time. Your hands start to get sweaty and your brain… well, your brain basically goes on sleep mode.
There you go looking like the person who doesn’t know what their own business/job is about. I know exactly how you feel. In my case, my brain even decides to switch languages too.
So why is it important to be a better networker?
Whether you’re growing your business or looking for a new job, networking is still considered to be one of the best ways to do so. Luckily, there are different ways of networking. You can network by connecting with people in your inner circle, through social media, LinkedIn or (the nerve-wracking face to face) networking events.
Here are a few simple tips that will help you improve your networking skills.
Know who you are
There’s nothing more important than knowing who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Whether you’re selling yourself (at a job interview) or selling your own product/service, if you don’t believe in it, no one will. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is my identity?
- What are my core values?
- What makes me or my product stand out?
Knowing who you are will essentially help increase your confidence – Which is crucial when it comes to networking. Ultimately, when you believe in what you have to offer, that truly shows forth when networking.
Have an elevator pitch
Now that you have identified who you are, it’s time to get on with your elevator pitch. This is a short overview of who you are and what you have to offer. Remember, you are trying to convince others why they should work with you or consider you. I know you are ‘awesome’, however, your pitch needs to a bit more specific and memorable.
Make the first move
Making the first move seems like a scary thing to do. You know… sending out that email, making that phone call, walking across the room just to introduce yourself. However, what is the worst that can happen? Probably, that you don’t get the response you were hoping for, isn’t it?
Whatever the outcome, it’s always important to remember that the right opportunities and doors will open at the right time. The same thing goes for when you’re networking for job opportunities. If you were not offered the job, there is probably a better one on its way – However, you will never know if you don’t take the first step.
Be open to building relationships
So, someone you contacted has gotten back to you, however, at the moment there’s no immediate lead. Does this mean this was a lost opportunity? Absolutely not! Don’t get rid of the business card, no don’t delete that email.
Networking is not only about what you can get. The best connections and relationships can spring forth by just simply keeping in contact with that person. Besides, who knows later on your contact, might have a friend who is looking to work with someone like you.
Yes, you know who you are and you know what you have to offer. However, in order to avoid unwanted surprises, always make sure you are prepared. Whether it’s a networking event, meeting, phone call etc. Bobby Unser said it best when he said “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet”- Don’t underestimate the power of preparation.