Okay, so most of us get that we need to network. It’s a necessary part of growing business, especially for small and local businesses. But to enjoy it might be another thing altogether for some. Walking into a room full of people you don’t know might be intimidating. The good news is you can implement a lot of practices that make professional networking easier to get a grasp on. Getting through the first part is usually the hardest. Once you break the ice, the rest will most likely come naturally.
Before going to a networking event, it’s a good idea to prepare just like you would for any interview or business meeting. Know the audience of who is attending the event. Are you up to date on the latest industry happenings? Can you clearly get across what you do in less than 30 seconds? And one thing a lot of people forget to take into account – what do you want to accomplish at the meeting?
Breaking the Ice
While it might be tempting, try to break away from the people you already know closely. You’re there to meet new people, right? If you’re with other colleagues, make sure to split up. If you’re by yourself, don’t fret because there are going to be other people there in the same boat. Open up a conversation by asking what their company does, what they think of the event, or ask what got them started in their particular industry. If you find yourself standing alone, try to walk up to someone new and begin a conversation. Most likely you’ll be glad you did.
Find the Right Fit
Networking doesn’t have be an event where you’re stranded at a cocktail party full of strangers trying to make small talk. There are many kinds of networking, and most likely there’s a format that will work well for you. While it’s good to get out of your comfort zone, it’s okay to start with something you’re comfortable with and expand from there. Some events are more relaxed and spontaneous, others might be more organized. Find the right fit for you.
Above all, keep in mind networking is not about getting a job or a sale. It’s about developing long term relationships and swapping valuable information. Looking for a professional networking group in the Lincoln area to join? Check out PNG. Not only are we a ton of fun, but we’re all about creating great, long-lasting relationships where everyone wins. Check us out: www.pnglincoln.com