Building relationships from scratch is never an easy task. But folks who have to network with strangers for work frequently don’t really have a choice. If that is you, let us share some tips on how to score big in networking.
Be clear on your motives
Have you ever been on the receiving end of an approach and observed how “fake” a person can be? Don’t make the mistake of being labelled as “fake” by the person you intend to know.
Whether you’re keen on connecting with a potential employer, reach a target customer, or simply find out more about an existing project they’re working on, make it known clearly. The last thing you want to achieve is to appear dodgy to the other party.
Put in the effort before your requests
Dian Oved, CEO of a PR and digital marketing company, shares with us a common pitfall. “A new founder will ask me for a celebrity intro for a collaboration, but they haven’t yet built a website, prepared materials, or thought about what they’ll do if the intro is made.”
Before making requests, be sure that you’ve put in the necessary effort. Remember that your networking contact is trading on their reputation to arrange that introduction for you. Make it count.
Learn how to be likeable
While you can’t control someone’s first impression of you, you can learn how to be likeable through the words you say. Generally, people are looking to be inspired and intrigued by your latest venture or your point of view on a common topic.
However, be fully aware that braggers get nowhere. Though it’s applaudable that you take the initiative to speak up, humility is still essential when it comes to networking. There’s a time to share your achievements and a suitable time to listen.
Ask open-ended questions
Do you recall what we wrote at the start of this article? It’s great to start off being clear on your motives, but you want to ask open-ended questions to facilitate the conversation and direction. Just take a look at this example:
A: “Do you know anyone I can speak with as I’m learning more about job opportunities at Google?”
B: “Can you connect me to your ex-colleague, John, at Google? I want to ask him for a job.”
Do you think sentence A or B is a better approach? If you chose A, you’re on the right track. It’s an open-ended question that’s both direct and polite. It also allows your networking acquaintance to use their network to your advantage.
Some people may be born with the gift of the tongue, but the truth is that most of us have to go through trials to find the most appropriate way to network. Sometimes, all it takes is a little practice to get there. Don’t give up!