If you are a part of the business world, you know that networking is key to success. But just how do you network?
Many success stories begin with knowing the right person or finding that first foot in the door.
But networking is more than just showing up to an event and shaking some hands. There is a right way to do it, and if you follow my instructions, it will lead you straight to success.
1. Forget your agenda
Everyone at a networking event has an agenda. Why else would they be at a networking event?
After all, networking is all about meeting the right people to help you get ahead.
Especially if you are new to the networking world or are setting out to start a new business or fund a new venture, you are one of many people who are begging favors.
If you fall in with the masses looking to get ahead, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and come away from a networking opportunity empty handed.
But if you drop your agenda and go into the event with the sole purpose of meeting as many people as possible—no strings or business scheming attached—you will stand out from the crowd and leave a wonderfully lasting impression on the right people.
2. Show a desire to help others
Like I said, everyone at a networking event has an agenda.
But, unlike everyone else, you know that the secret to success is letting go of your own agenda.
To take things a step further and really seal the deal, it’s important to show that you have an interest in helping the people you meet, rather than just expecting them to help you.
In a world where everyone is in it for themselves, by offering your help, you set yourself apart and stand out to people who could return the favor and make you a success.
By offering to help others, you validate their agendas and make yourself an appealing potential connection.
3. Never dismiss anyone
Even if someone doesn’t appear to have that perfect connection you want to make your dream a reality, they could still be worth talking to.
It never hurts to widen your personal network.
A person who is in an unrelated industry could have a friend or a friend of a friend that can help you out—but only if you don’t dismiss them as irrelevant to your agenda.
If you are inclusive when you network, you broaden your horizons and ensure that you make a strong positive impression to everyone, no matter their connections.
4. Follow up
Surprisingly, this is often the most difficult step for people.
It’s easy in a conversation to mention your plans and even the favors you might need, but a lot of people, particularly those who are new to this sort of business, are scared to be bold when it comes to following up with a potential connection.
It can be daunting to write an email asking someone for a favor, and it can be even more nerve racking to call someone up and hope that they not only remember you but are also willing to help you.
But honestly, what’s the worst that can happen?
They can say no, but is that really so bad?
And besides, chances are if they offered their information to you, this connection is perfectly happy to offer you aid. So pick up that phone or type up that email. Be polite but be bold.
Make sure to thank the new connection for taking the time to talk to you. Remind the person who you are, what you need, and where you met. Ask kindly for an informational interview or an introduction or whatever other favor you discussed and thank them again for their time.
In the world of business, you never get anything you don’t ask for. But if you’re willing to ask, you could get everything you ever dreamed of. Plus, having the manners to reach out and thank a connection for their time sets you apart from the masses.
Remember, everyone has an agenda, and everyone is seeking a favor.
But you can make sure that YOU are the one that gets those favors as long as you follow these networking tips.
They ensure that you come across as a bright, mannered, forward-thinking and helpful businessperson, and will make you an appealing connection to those who are seeking success and those who have already achieved it.