Networking events are for meeting people in your own industry, people across different fields to expand your professional network and building a professional relationship that will be useful for you in the future. It is not the event or place to ply your wares – yourself, your products or services. The first rule of networking is to build rapport and engage by taking genuine interest in the people around you. Don’t blow this chance by centering on you or what you have, instead create rapport and move beyond the introductions!
4 things you should know about creating rapport:
- Be attentive – Your focus should be on what they are saying or sharing. So stop talking about your self! Ask questions, when they see you are interested in what they are saying and in who they are, you are actually earning their trust. Less is more, the less they know about you now; the more they’ll want to know later.
- Rapport is about “syncing in”. It is about moving into a harmonious professional relationship where in each individual’s goals were achieved while developing a close and advantageous connection. Rapport happens when ideas, insights, goals and even feelings are in alignment. Finding a common ground with the people in the event is crucial in networking.
- Be open and friendly – There’s no need to be defensive and terse, competitive or self-conscious. You are there to get to know people and expand your network with the objective that these people will be of help when you need it as well as you can be of help to them when they need you.
- Don’t force it. If you aren’t connecting politely excuse yourself and move on. Your network should be about quality not quantity.
Now what? Now you decide who’s phone number you want. Be picky it should feel natural and exciting. Set a date to talk specifically about business. The second meeting is a business activity to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures. Your success relies on your ability to listen and communicate well with your potential network.
Experience the value of a strong first rate network by getting to know the person before you ever discuss the business. After all business is about people and trust. The trust that you build up means other people will likely accept your ideas, share information and create opportunities together. Its better to leave a networking event having built rapport and made a date to discuss business with one high-potential network partner than with a stack of business cards.