Networking is about collecting relationships with interesting or influential people regardless of the immediate benefit. If you have social media, you’re already good at this. After all, you collect friends and followers on all platforms. You post to get their approval through “likes” and “comments.” You use hashtags to make yourself and your content easily searchable, and you seek others to follow who will add something interesting to your feed.
But, ask yourself: when was the last time you met an acquaintance for coffee midday or drinks after work? How long has it been since you slunk into a room of professionals, put your name on a sticker and mingled in search of (cringe face) … small talk? Yeah, it’s been awhile for me, too.
Which begs the question, has our evolved technological communication actually devolved our personal interactions? Because of this, is the age-old art of networking dying in the Internet age?
With numerous articles crediting “Millennial Burnout” (is it even just Millennials?) to our constant connectivity, it’s almost impossible to remember that tuning out and turning off is something that must be done from time to time.
And networking just may be the thing for which to stop scrolling and start shaking hands. While there’s a lot to like about curated feeds and pumped-up LinkedIn profiles, there’s something quite nice about building relationships with actual people, which is the whole point of networking. And today, it’s more than matching a face with a name. Matching a personalized interaction with a face still matters.
So, get up and get out there! Make the most of meeting new people and networking in your city. There’s no doubt that opportunities will come from it – even if it’s just keeping your communication skills honed! As you mingle, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Don’t limit your network.
It doesn’t necessarily matter if someone is inside or outside of your industry, if they are influential, commit to connecting with that person. Often, a third party can offer fresh perspectives and make new introductions.
Go for quality not quantity.
Don’t just shake a bunch of hands and collect cards. Take time to have a real discussion. In the middle of a great conversation with someone? Don’t feel the need to move on so quickly. While you should be aware of their time (and your own), don’t be afraid to become engaged. The goal is to make meaningful – not numerous – connections.
Listen, then show them you heard.
When first joining a group of people, take a few minutes to listen and then enter the conversation with a comment that adds to the discussion. Nothing will stop a conversation faster than focusing on yourself.
Don’t miss the opportunity to follow up! Send a note to each person with whom you exchanged information and remark on your interaction. Mention something specific to make the connection personal. Follow through on offers made to connect them and/or scheduling lunch. Keep the momentum going.
Want more tips on how to make important business connections? Check out our video post!