Networking know-how: general best practices

Networking can be a huge help in pushing your company and career forward. However, many people overlook the details and don’t get the most out of it; networking is not a night out with your friends… so don’t take the same approach!  Below are some networking best practices so you can use networking to its full potential. Special thanks to Hui Wang and Luciana Torres for their work on this effort.

  • Engage

Find influential industry professionals and don’t be afraid to engage. These people are leaders in their industry for a reason, so get to know them, learn from them, and show them how you can contribute as well. Don’t wait to be approached by someone, instead, confidently ask questions to break the ice.  A question like “What brings you to this event?” is a simple way to get a conversation started.

  • Be Polite

You don’t have to speak with everyone, but you do have to be polite to everyone. Your actions reflect your professionalism and will be remembered, so be sure to leave a positive impression. This includes not “hijacking” a conversation- be sure to get your point across while also listening and giving others a chance to give their input.

  • Be a Resource

While your ultimate goal may be to find investors, customers, or to otherwise improve your own business chances and conditions, you are also in a position to help others. Offer whatever resources you can- advice, contacts, support, partnership, or investment in order to increase your value to the business network.

  • Relax

With so many rules and things to keep in mind, it’s easy to give off a stiff vibe. Know the best practices, but then relax and enjoy the event! Let yourself be taken by some conversations and don’t be afraid to show your personality. After all, that’s what will be memorable to others and make you stand out.

  • Follow Up

After the event, no longer than two days, send out notes (emails are ok) to the people you held conversations with. The email should demonstrate that you enjoyed meeting them and that the time spent together was valuable. These emails should be sent out to everyone, even your competitors- professionalism is always appreciated. If the person you’re reaching out to is someone you would like to see again (and maybe do business together in the future), ask them if they are willing to set up a meeting.

With these easy suggestions, you can turn your next networking event into a valuable experience that could really help your company!