Keys to networking like a boss

3 min read

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Imagine sailing into a networking event, hair blowing in the non-existent wind, waving gracefully to no one in particular. You exude a presence that fills the room and flash a smile that sparkles. People rush over to meet you and you have the most interesting conversations. They’re laughing. You’re laughing. You throw your head back. Networking is a breeze.

Sounds amazing, right? Unfortunately, actual networking events are nothing like that. They’re a mess of sweaty palms, strained conversations and awkward business card exchanges. Yes, they’re painful, but there’s no denying that they’re beneficial and many an opportunity has been born from an encounter with the right person at the right time.

Not every networking event will be as easy breezy as the one you just dominated in your imagination, but the next time you’re at an event, remember this.

Be interested, not interesting.

The key to networking effectively and making an impact on those you meet is to make it less about you and more about the person you’re speaking with. Rather than constantly thinking of the next thing you’re going to say, listen attentively and ask insightful questions.

Oprah believes these three things about people:

1. People want to know whether you see them.
2. People want to know whether you hear them.
3. People want to know if what they say matters to you.

To make people feel seen, heard and significant, get them talking and show genuine interest. As you continue to ask insightful questions, they’ll be happy to go deep on a topic that interests them at an event where conversations tend to be superficial. Even if they can’t remember your name afterwards (and let’s face it, they’re meeting a lot of people at these events), they will remember how you made them feel. Seen, heard and significant.

Go into the event with the intent to learn something new.

No matter who you are, there’s something to learn from every single person you meet. Try to find the golden nugget every time you meet someone new. Not only will that reframe your mind and help you ask those insightful questions, but it will also make the event more enjoyable.

Your work isn't done when the event is over.

Follow-up is crucial. You need to stand out. "Great to meet you" emails will flood the inboxes of attendees. Make your emails memorable by including something personal that each person spoke about, which should be easy because you were listening so intently.  

For example, if someone mentioned a desire to travel to Thailand someday and you’ve already been, let them know that you’re happy to send recommendations and tips if they end up booking a trip. Including something from the conversation will trigger that feeling you left them with making it more likely that they'll keep in touch.

Your networking mantra: Listen, Ask Questions, Follow up.

Put it into practice and see what happens when you start making genuine connections. You just might start loving these events, even if the wind isn't blowing through your hair.

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businessJenny Paul