Rebekah Campbell said, “I know I should go to networking opportunities, but it’s a chore. All too often, I end up standing in a corner clinging to the one person I know, feeling guilty that I’m not taking advantage of the situation. Truth is, as an introvert, I’ve struggled with networking for years. I’d much rather be home reading a book.” Since networking is an important business tool and process, a few practiced techniques could help you to form relationships and improve, even enjoy, the networking process.
Here are a few ideas that may help.
Short Conversations with lots of people. Follow up later.
Many people find it difficult to form deep connections at events. Instead, try to have short conversations with as many people as possible, making sure you have their contact information so I can follow up later. If you see someone you want to talk to, politely say, “I’m sorry to interrupt, Ms. Johnson suggested we meet. I just want to get your business card so I can follow up later.” It’s quite hard for people to say no to this. And then after the event, reach out and set up lunch or coffee or some way to talk in person.
Focus on one of your strengths.
Large informal groups are challenging, but you may perform better in formal presentation settings or one-on-one conversations. Instead of worrying about your inability to charm people at large-group events, focus on your natural ability to engage people one-on-one and to speak publicly. If you perfect one-on-one presentations, that’s all you need to do to build a network.
Form a few close relationships.
Some people have hundreds or even thousands of people in their (social) networks. In reality, most of us have a close business network of 15 – 25 people, but they are special. If we can meet and really connect with between one and three people per year, you will quickly build an effective personal network. Herein lies the essence of networking: each of these and future contacts will probably introduce you to one or two new contacts. And, because these new contacts are basically referrals, your acceptance is all but guaranteed.
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