At theBLOQparq (tBp), we offer countless opportunities to network and in a more organic way. Our collaborative community will offer co-working spaces, pop-up events, seminars, independent coffee shops for caffeine and conversation, and more. So many options to choose from that result in the same end goal: allowing you to prosper professionally and personally.
There is a direct correlation between networking skills and business success. When you are better at making connections, you are generally presented with more personal and professional growth opportunities.
It should come as no surprise that word-of-mouth marketing is a pivotal part of a start-ups growth rate. That is why it’s essential to surround yourself with the right people and have the right conversations. Contrary to popular belief, networking does not revolve around asking for favors. Whether it’s with a potential customer or an industry expert, the most successful business people focus on creating authentic relationships. On that note, let’s talk about 5 ways to improve your networking skills.
1. Make attending events a priority
This one may seem like common sense, but its value is often underestimated. You need to do your due diligence and know what’s going on within your community. While almost any activity or gathering can act as a networking opportunity, you’ll want to focus on things like meetings hosted by professional associations within your field, industry-related events put on by your city’s chamber of commerce, as well as events hosted by local nonprofits that support a cause you care about.
An additional insider tip: You’ll want to determine your goals before arriving at these networking events. Whether it’s adding to your digital Rolodex, giving back to the community, or gaining insights relevant to your industry, you’ll want to have a clear agenda in place.
2. Overcome your inner introvert
Not all of us were born with the innate ability to socialize for hours on end. If the idea of starting up a conversation with strangers gives you a bit of anxiety – you’re not alone.
Here are a few things you can do to help alleviate some of those completely normal nerves
- Find a networking wingman (or woman). Most situations are made better when you have someone familiar by your side. Have a friend or coworker who is also looking to expand their network? Act as a dynamic duo as you mix and mingle among a sea of potential customers and valuable connections.
- Collect some go-to icebreakers. Have an idea of some practical opening lines you may want to use. Some good options involve leading with a compliment or asking a question that invites the other person to share something about themselves. Maybe find out how they got into the industry or what inspired them to do what they do.
- Take a moment to take a break. We mean this both literally and figuratively. Sometimes networking events can become overwhelming – it takes a lot of energy to stay on your A-game. Allow yourself to grab a coffee or step outside to get some fresh air. Taking a minute to hit the restart button and return ready to make a good first impression
3. Peel back the layers of your brand
Words. They are important. Having the best product or service is just the first step towards success.
If you cannot articulate how your business works or the benefits that go along with it, your brand will not reach its full potential.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to improve your communication skills is to create an elevator pitch for your business. It should include what you do and what makes you different (and better) than the competition. The idea is to allow others to get to know you and your brand.
4. Refining the art of following up
Making connections is only half of the equation. You also have to find ways to continue nurturing the relationship. Taking the time to check-in and reach out to your contacts a few times throughout the year is essential. Send them a personalized note during the holiday season, forward an article that may be of interest to them, or extend an invitation to an industry-relevant event. The important thing is to let others know you were thinking about them and hope they will reciprocate when the opportunity arises.
5. You get what you give
No matter where the networking is taking place or who you are trying to connect with, remember to maintain a give and take mentality. Don’t be the person that’s always asking for favors. In reality, kindness and paying it forward prove to be beneficial for everyone involved – karma at its finest.