A guest post by networking and PR pro, our very own George Drucker.
Which would you rather do? Make cold calls and send emails to names from a directory trying to convince them that they should see you and your agency; or send one email that says, “So glad we met recently at the Jones party; it was really great fun.”
That line can say it all. Every person you meet, every individual you say hello to, every function you attend, is a bonafide networking opportunity. It’s a unique chance to engage with people and learn about them, who they are, where they’re from, what they do, where they work, where they went to school, their interests and hobbies. Networking can be done so naturally.
After each brief encounter, you exchange cards, follow up with a breezy email and, voila! A budding relationship. A networked connection. And you didn’t even have to go to LinkedIn!
What are the keys to networking success?
Engage with people every chance you get. As noted, every encounter, every handshake, every greeting is a network opportunity. And when you have the chance to engage and get a dialogue started — make the person you’re speaking to feel you’re interested in them, what they have to say, what they think or feel.
Ask questions, and listen to the answers. You’ll be amazed how the conversation can smoothly, logically flow when you listen. There’s also an axiom here; most people (not all, but most) like to be asked about themselves, and talk about themselves when engaged in natural, tactful conversation. It makes the individual feel the person asking the questions has an engaging personality, and a genuinely likable persona.
Check your ego. Most people don’t want to spend time with someone who seems to love talking about themselves. People like dialogues, not monologues. That doesn’t mean when you think of a personal anecdote relevant to the conversation that it shouldn’t be used, but just don’t let it lead to five minutes of talking about yourself.
Get out there. Everyone has that moment at a cocktail reception, a dinner, or a party, where you’re standing alone, seeing others chatting away in twos and threes, and you think “I hate this. I don’t know anyone,” or “I feel out of place.” Stop right there. Instead, get over that fear and think “there are 60 people here that I don’t know, and I have the unique chance and great opportunity to make 60 new connections, acquaintances, maybe even friends–with a whole new world of of people.”
It’s the art of the network. Use it to your benefit.