Networking, networking, networking: it seems that we are constantly being reminded of its value and importance. It’s a rather large concept to navigate, so we’ve decided to dig into the “art” of networking here on the blog, distilling its ambiguity down to what really lies as its core.
Last week, we shared a list of networking channels worth pursuing. Once you’ve chosen a few routes to pursue, it’s time to prepare for the networking engagement itself. Today, we’re going to dive into how to prepare and what it means to network meaningfully.
What Is “Meaningful Networking?”
Networking isn’t just about showing up and handing out business cards. In fact, a business card doesn’t mean much if there’s not a positive impression and a genuine connection paired with it. It takes time and effort to navigate the world of networking in a meaningful way. Luckily, adequate preparation will ensure that your time and energy don’t go to waste. The following are a few steps you can take to ensure you’re well-prepared for your next networking event:
- To attend a networking event without considering your desired outcomes beforehand is like going grocery shopping without a list: you come home with a jumble of items, not sure what to do with them. Prior to a networking engagement, consider what outcomes you desire from the experience. This way, you will have some goals to work toward throughout the event or meeting, and you can avoid feeling adrift upon your arrival. As you prepare, ask yourself the following questions to help steer yourself in the right direction:
- Why am I networking?
- What do I hope to gain from the experience?
- How do I want to present myself or my business?
- With what type of people am I looking to connect, and why?
- Show up confident. Knowing what you want to talk about and how you want to present yourself goes a long way. Craft an elevator pitch in advance, and wear something that is appropriate for the occasion and makes you feel good. Have business cards handy, but use them meaningfully and sparingly.
- Be open-minded. This involves listening to others with sincerity, and being receptive to their questions, ideas, or advice.
- Prepare some questions ahead of time that are beyond the scope of typical small-talk. Ask questions that will open doors, leading to interesting conversations and lasting connections.
- Relax. It’s amazing how often people forget to just breathe. If you’re uptight or tense, it will show. Just relax and be yourself. It sounds so simple, but the difference it makes is immeasurable.
Hosting an event? Our friends at Mixtroz created an app that uses customized questions to group meeting attendees together based on their responses. It encourages a more interactive and personal form of networking… in other words, meaningful networking.
Any networking tips we didn’t cover? Share them with us below!