Tips to Hone Your Networking Skills at Business Conferences
Developing a healthy network of contacts is critical to entrepreneurial success, and yet for many people – particularly the less extroverted types – it is the most daunting part of starting a business. It can be even more intimidating in situations with lots of people, like at a business conference.
But the art of networking is a skill that can be developed like any other! Refine your networking prowess at your next business conference with the following tips:
You are your own business, so you need to present yourself and your offering as its own personal brand. These days, this is achieved primarily through your online presence. Even though you are meeting contacts face-to-face, they are likely to do some homework on you online afterwards. Make sure you have a professional looking website and a strong presence on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. Include links on your business card to make it easy for the people you meet to connect with you online!
Building a network is about garnering trust between you and your contacts. What you have to offer is more important than style when gaining credibility. Avoid scripted-sounding lines which can come across as impersonal. Instead, be transparent about your goals and offerings to create genuine connections.
When you engage with people, have a plan for what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Also consider your body language as everything from gestures to eye contact will make an impression on the people you speak with. It may sound silly, but practicing in front of a mirror or even video taping yourself can help you evaluate how effectively you’re communicating.
Make it About Them
Networking is a two-way street, so rather than focusing on how others can serve you, make the interaction more about them. Be cognizant of how much you are talking and balance with how much you listen. Ask them thoughtful questions that give them space to speak. You will find that what you invest in others you will receive back in return!
Networking is about building a positive rapport with others that provides mutual prosperity to both parties. But while it’s important to know the dos and don’ts of growing a network, remember that it’s just as important to be yourself!