Networking is the essential foundation to all successful business endeavors. Every career, every client investment, every sale–big or small– begins with a simple connection.
Despite knowing this, it’s not always easy to know where and how to make connections–nor how to maintain them once they are made.
- Feel mystified by colleagues who seem to effortlessly make new connections wherever they go?
- Want to strike up conversations with strangers but aren’t sure how to turn them into sales leads/connect professionally?
- Simply interested in further improving your already decent networking skills?
Then this post is for you!
Leah Gesouras, Source Brand Solutions sales account executive and local social butterfly, shared some of her tried-and-true methods for finding networking opportunities everyday and making each connection count.
First, one of the biggest networking mistakes people make is to rely on planned social events alone. Only showing up at these times is a sure-fire way to be forgotten.
Instead, try making a small, daily effort to be seen and recognized in your community. Concrete ways to do this include:
- Pop into a local business just to say hello
- Shoot a brief, friendly follow-up text or email when you run into someone
- Build trust by showing up at a variety of non-professional, local events
- Volunteer for a local organization, even if just for a couple of hours each month
When it comes to professional events, don’t wait around for an invitation to arrive. Be proactive and utilize resources to get involved and find them yourself.
- Subscribe to Chamber of Commerce newsletters and emails.
- Get involved with local business clubs.
- Search on LinkedIn and Eventbrite to find events for specific topics you’re interested in.
When chatting up a potential client, balance professionalism with personality. Show your humanity. Have a couple of laughs together before switching gears to talk business.
- Look for similar experiences and opinions to make a connection when you first meet. Connections bring conversation, and conversation leads to client conversion.
- Notice their communication style–don’t be robotic with the same spiel for every person! Understanding how they communicate best will help you to better convey ideas.
- Do they think with their gut and are more passionate?
- Or are they more analytical and want a case study and numbers?
- Listen first. Let them take “center stage.” Trust is built when people feel heard.
Once you make the connection do some research on the potential client (or employer!). Look at their website and social media accounts. Add them on LinkedIn. This way, when you meet again, you’re already familiar and can be more specific about what you have to offer to meet their needs.
Planting connections as small, daily interactions will alleviate a lot of stress. There will be no need to spend days planning how to navigate socializing at the next event. Once rooted in the local community, the connections are already there when you walk through the door.
As you go out and implement these simple tips, you will soon find your network flourishing and you are the colleague effortlessly making connections wherever you go!