No matter how good you are at networking, you can always be better. Some of us are predisposed to be good networkers, with a natural talent for social interaction. Some of us have to work on honing our skills to outpace the pack. Some of us aren’t quite where we’d like to be, but don’t feel like we have the time or the resources to put into improving. No matter what the case, no one is so good at networking that they can neglect to work on it or so strapped for time that they can’t put a few minutes into reading our top 4 tips for immediately increased networking success.
1. Ask better questions. It’s hard to gain insight about potential business partners or build a personal relationship with colleagues if you’re saying the wrong things and asking the wrong questions- mediocre questions lead to mediocre answers and mediocre relationships. When you’re building a relationship with a new networking contact, ask deeper, more insightful questions about their values, their business direction, their personal and professional goals and you’ll gain a better understanding of who they are and what they’re about and how that fits or doesn’t fit into your professional future.
2. Pay better attention. Just as important as knowing what to say is knowing when to listen. When you’re inside your head, worried about what to say and what the other person thinks of you, it’s easy to get stuck overanalyzing what’s said or over-planning what’s to come. Avoid this as best you can. Focus on what the other person is saying just as much as if not more than you focus on what you’re saying and the conversation will flow much more naturally, and you’ll gain much more and much better insight as a result.
3. Names are the name of the game. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself in at least one sticky situation recently regarding names. Maybe you ran into someone you recognized but couldn’t remember their name, or had some seeming stranger come up to you and launch into a conversation like you were the best of friends while you have no recollection of who they are. It’s normal, and it happens to all of us from time to time, but there are ways we can work to minimize the problem. When someone first introduces themselves to you, make sure you hear their name clearly, then get a good look at their face and repeat it back to them. The act of pairing these stimuli has been shown to aid memory recall. Once you’ve got their name down, work it into conversation whenever possible and natural, it will build familiarity and closeness and leave your conversation partner with a more favourable opinion of you overall.
4. Improve your body language. It is strange how little time most of us invest in improving our posture and our body language about how important it is to social interaction and general well-being. Back up against a wall, for good posture, your feet, butt, shoulders and the back of your head should all be touching the wall at the same time. It is not only healthy but will radiate confidence to potential business partners. In conversation, open up your torso, uncrossing your legs and arms, speak with your hands, and smile as often as you can. It’s amazing what a few small changes can do to improve the impression others’ have of you and your confidence.
There it is, quick and dirty. Like I said, these are changes you can begin to implement today which will be relatively easy to institute and which will yield noticeable changes in your networking success.