But networking can oftentimes seem frightening or difficult. So how do you overcome this fear and network successfully? By building connections in ways that are both intentional and authentic, inviting others into your life, and sharing stories about your experiences.
No matter who you are speaking to or what event you are attending, however, you want to follow this formula for networking with confidence: Plan, Prepare, Perform. This requires a bit of homework before you register to attend an event, however, so be sure to start as early as possible!
What is your agenda? What outcomes do you want to achieve? Who will be there and where do they work? How can they help you achieve your goals, and how can you help them achieve theirs?
What data do you need to collect before attending a networking event? How will you represent yourself and your purpose for attending this particular event? What’s your storyline? If possible, you’ll want to get access to the attendee list, identify event sponsors, download maps and parking instructions for the venue, particularly if it is a large event.
Practice your elevator speech before and during each introduction. Describe yourself in six words as if on an elevator that was going up only one floor. Then try describing yourself in 20 words or less in case the elevator has ten floors to travel.
Earlier in this article, we mentioned how important it is to network with intent and authenticity. Being authentic begins with your own personal brand. Image is always important and includes what you wear, what you know, the confidence that you exude, and more. Ultimately, you want to be yourself. If you show any sign of being disengaged or disingenuous, your audience is likely to sense this.
Being intentional begins with a firm handshake and a smile. Alternatively, a statement expressed digitally requires the feel of your smile, friendly demeanor, and intent to build the relationship. This is also where your research can kick in, elevating your ability to engage in lively conversation on a host of topics.
Here are a few best practices to ensure you put your best networking foot forward.
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