Traditional networking is still viable in the digital age, despite the myriad of social business networking platforms such as LinkedIn.
Don’t believe this? Head to virtually any LinkedIn group or business-focused Facebook discussion, and you’ll almost definitely witness people talking about where they networked last week and where they intend on heading in the next few days.
The key to networking success is to follow these tried-and-tested strategies. Keep them in your back pocket at all times so you can call on them when the next networking opportunity arises.
1. Set clear objectives
Why are you heading to the networking event? What’s the goal?
There needs to be a goal, and it needs to be clear. Without one, you’ll simply head into that room without any idea of what you want to get out of it.
Before you go, set some quantifiable objectives that you know you can achieve.
2. Prepare a simple elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a short description of why people should listen to you and trust you.
Make sure yours lasts no longer than 30 seconds and immediately hits on the benefits you’ll offer people. Don’t talk solely about yourself or your accolades, though.
3. Don't just converse with people you already know
Networking can be nerve-wracking for many people, which often leads them to simply talk to the people they know.
This is a bad move. As important as those people are, you need to identify new contacts - particularly influencers.
Arm yourself with some conversation starters, and get talking to strangers!
4. Focus on quality over quantity
Networking is all about making great connections. But, unfortunately, the temptation is often to simply make as many connections as possible.
Quality over quantity absolutely applies when it comes to networking. Look for the people and businesses with whom you have the most in common, and which will help you meet the goals you set out earlier.
5. Be prepared
This is a bit of a cliche, but it is so true.
You need to head into those networking rooms completely prepared. This means business cards to hand, elevator pitch ready, and the people you most want to talk to identified.
If you feel awkward talking to new people, make sure you have those conversation starters ready and just be yourself!