Dr. Ivan Misner famously said, “It’s not what you know or who you know – it’s how well you know each other that counts.” Networking is all about building deeper relationships and making connections that will benefit both parties. A fantastic way to meet new people is through networking events. However, how can you truly make connections which go beyond the surface? Here are some tips to take your networking skills to the next level.
Making contact is the first step towards creating a new connection. It’s important to be approachable. Having a standoffish attitude, or closed body language, like having your arms folded, might make it difficult for people to approach you. Although you might just be shy or nervous it can come across as alienating to some. Make an effort to smile and engage and encourage conversation with open body language.
Now that you’ve broken the ice, it’s time to keep the conversation flowing. Don’t just talk about yourself but ask questions about the other person. People enjoy talking about themselves so it’s a great way to get them to open up. Go beyond asking the basic questions about their company or their job, and pay close attention to their responses so you can continue to to ask pertinent questions. This shows you have interest in them and will encourage them to ask you questions in return.
Look for Common Ground
This might sound a bit like networking 101, but finding some common ground is essential to building a deeper relationship with someone you’ve just met. Having shared experiences or mutual connections is a fantastic way to bond. It makes it easier for people to relate to you and makes your conversation more genuine. Real conversations and curiosity are much more likely to lead to a real connection and that’s what networking is all about.
In a professional setting like a networking event it can sometimes be difficult to veer away from topics relating to your business. While talking about your business is important it’s also important to share a little bit about yourself and who you are as an individual. Sharing a few personal details about yourself makes you more relatable and memorable. It also makes people feel more comfortable sharing information about themselves well and opens the door for deeper conversations and connections.