Does anybody actually enjoy networking? Simply, yes – in fact, some people seem to be made for it. They appear to be great at mingling, communicating and sharing their experience and expertise with others in an environment that is intimidating to so many other entrepreneurs.
In truth, though, anyone can learn to network effectively. It’s something that can benefit most businesses, and an excellent opportunity to get the right messages to the most important people, at key times for your business.
Here are some tips to help you to get a head start when you next attend an event.
Operate online and otherwise
According to Forbes, active networking is vital to entrepreneurial success for 78% of startups. This means you’ll face significant competition for attention at every event, so you should make sure you appear on social media and networking platforms too.
This gives you the ideal opportunity to display your character, humour and innovative ideas to at least some of the people you’ll soon meet on a face-to-face basis.
Research means results
This is actually one of the biggest benefits of modern networking – you, too, can get a good idea of who is going to be there, beforehand.
Don’t attempt to meticulously plan exactly what you’re going to say to them, though, as the opportunity may simply never arise. However, you can at least anticipate topics of conversation, interests and therefore opportunities before you even arrive.
You’ll encounter plenty of people at a networking event who are there to talk about one thing – themselves. These are the people who have probably prepared a ‘speech’, and you’ll recognise attempts to steer or dominate conversations at every event.
Nevertheless, by asking questions, offering ideas and trying to solve problems, you’ll display the kind of thinking that likeminded people will appreciate and may want to work with.
You don’t have to walk the decks, incessantly introducing yourself to people, in order to be engaging. If starting the conversation isn’t your style, just be yourself.
Smile, nod and raise your glass – people often appreciate simple gestures over extrovert behaviour, especially when meeting someone for the first time. You can still stand out, even by being understated – so don’t be afraid to listen, encourage and even disagree.
Show your support
A great way to introduce yourself at a networking event is by being there for not just you, but also someone else. People will buy into reliability, so even if you’re suddenly engrossed in another industry entirely while networking, this in itself is still a conversation starter, and could put you in contact with a range of unexpected opportunities.
Guiding a young colleague or first-time networker through an event also displays trust, experience and patience that will be there for all to see.
You probably already are original, so you’ve got this covered, and you certainly don’t need to worry about trying to be anything other than yourself. If ‘dress to impress’ isn’t your thing, then you shouldn’t ‘fake it until you make it’ for a single, uncomfortable afternoon. Stand out instead with an engaging social media profile or quirky business card, or by being the most genuine and memorable person in the room.
Your Six Circles platform is the perfect place to share the date and time of your next event with others – and ensure you don’t miss out on where other members of your community are going in the meantime. Contact us today to learn more about what Six Circles can do for your business.