Up Your Networking Game
By now we’re sure your Newsfeed has been flooded with everyone’s renewed sense of change and organized plans to make this new year “better than ever.” In our fast-paced society, appointments get pushed back, we begin spending less time at home than we’d like, and throughout our days and nights we get Calendar reminders, phone notifications, and emails telling us to juggle it all right now, because that’s why we did it on our own in the first place. To prove that we can pave the way ourselves.
As business professionals, we’re accustomed to curveballs and how to best adapt to them. It’s our playing field. Admittedly, when we’re each balancing different projects at the Tangible office, we sometimes get so lost in trying to complete our own checklists that it becomes easy to get swamped. However, we find our focus again by pausing and asking each other for help when we need it most. We like to keep this same group mentality when we host GVL Connect, our networking series. We’ve found that the best connections and the best creations we’ve made have been from maintaining our relationships. We’ve outlined three key steps to strengthening your networking in the future.
Your next networking venture can be a transformative experience as long as you bear this in mind: Don’t simply take, the key is to give back.
1. Share, Retweet & Repeat
If you’ve just gone to your first networking event or you’re a seasoned guest, chances are there’s been a time where you’ve felt uncomfortable and you couldn’t find anyone that could answer all your questions in one sitting, in one night. Instead of networking to only serve you, try thinking of who all is attending. Perhaps it’s an interior designer, the cafe owner down the block whose posts you always share, or even someone in your field that just started to build their social media presence and could use some tips from like-minded colleagues. One of the easiest ways to grow your presence and show support for your fellow professionals is to try sharing their posts/blogs/tweets on your business or personal accounts. Think of it as a way of saying ‘hi’ with a quick nudge, so everyone knows you’re always open for connecting. In return, you’d be surprised at how much your networking approachability goes up just through a simple like or share.
Of course, your main focus should remain in keeping the genuine relationships you make with your clients. With practice, you’ll see how transparency and open communication in networking is integral to maintaining loyal partnerships. You don’t want to stand talking to someone who’s only going to “sell, sell, sell” you on themselves and not offer to hear your story or seek your knowledge. You also don’t want to narrow your target audience to just your field of work. There are opportunities to help you personally and professionally on every social platform, as long as you keep your eyes open. Strike a conversation on common interests and what you both can do to increase your online presence, together. The regrams and networking invites will soon follow.
2. Build Your Networking Cloud
After you’ve left the networking space for the night, take some time to peruse through the business cards and mailers you received. And follow up with everybody. Depending on what topic the event focused on, it’s almost always a certainty that all who attended work in a variety of fields. Like we mentioned before, connecting with other professionals in different areas of work serves to extend your skill-set in the long run. Yes, creating these connections is one of the best ways to expand upon your brand. Are you needing help with buying a home? Or maybe your logo could use some fine-tuning. (Hopefully by now, you know who to call—sorrynotsorry for the shameless self-promotion plug.)
If you find yourself feeling like the evening was a little lackluster, ask yourself: while networking, are you only searching within your comfort group or judging the “relevancy” of your conversations to your interests? This is the best form of self-sabotage and will gain you no allies or followers. Step outside your box and offer what you know and how your services can help them. We know this for sure: eye-catching email blasts and salesy phone calls will only get you so far, but true interest and honesty will always boost your brand further than any other effort.
3. Be a Student and a Mentor
During your next meeting with a client or even someone you connected with from the event, be sure to be as present and “off-screen” as possible. Your time and undivided attention will always be noticed and rewarded. Technology pushes us all to be fast and concise, but find clarity in face-to-face interactions where you’ll have the chance to ask as many questions as possible. Here’s where the magic happens that you can’t find in a website bio. Listening to the personal quirks and stories behind a business or business owner is absolutely crucial in becoming a better networker. By understanding their personal message, you’ll find opportunities to provide them with suggestions on how to best increase their client market and presence based on your own personal experience. This is a true service to those interacting with you, and by default ups your status and credibility.
By being present (both physically and mentally) at networking events, you will find yourself learning more and better help those around you learn. Think of this as an opportunity to play the role of both the student and the mentor, being humble enough to learn in areas you’re less familiar with and being generous enough to offer insight in areas you’re more familiar with.
The value of your craft is in your helping hands. Be sure to be willing to share advice as much as you’d like to take away advice. Your networking opportunities will not only widen, but your brand’s reputation overall will inspire others to maintain the same level of authenticity.
Being strategic in how you choose your interactions during a network event is important but it’s more beneficial to build upon those encounters and turn them into meaningful relationships. In the end, it’s about how you carry yourself and your skills socially. Do this simply by smiling and being enjoyable company all around without attempting to hijack every conversation. Should a situation arise where your expertise is called for, be friendly and more than willing to offer your help. By lending a hand to everyone that you come across, you’ll have gained a genuine support group of likeminded professionals that will be happy to assist you in the future.
If you’d like to hone your networking skills further, come join us during our next GVL Connect event. You can follow along and keep updated with our upcoming events on our Facebook page.
Heads up: We’re always available for personal consultations if needed to help your business be ahead of the rest. Let us know if you have any questions or if you’d like to schedule a meeting.
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