Underrated networking tips to help boost your career
Whether you’re looking for new clients or making a complete career change, professional contacts are key. Connecting with people can help expand your business, explore career pivots, open up opportunities for collaboration, or even just set you up with some friends to talk shop and troubleshoot your strategies.
The business world is chock-full of networking events, ranging from short meet-ups to week-long conferences, and with the changing times, the etiquette of networking is always changing. The thickness of business cards have become far less important; your social media platforms much more so.
To put together this list of underrated networking ideas, Stacker collected advice from CEOs, artists, creative thinkers, and thought leaders, as well as references from books and articles on business, leadership, and personal development. Some tips will be new, unexpected, and counterintuitive. Others are undersung pieces of advice you may have heard before, and perhaps ignored. Read on, then try applying one, a dozen or all 50, and watch your network grow.
1. Show up on time
There’s no such thing as fashionably late in a networking context. Arrive after everyone else, and you’ll have a tough time breaking into newly formed circles of conversation. It’s best to arrive early and introduce yourself to the other early birds looking for someone to talk to. Best of all, the start of the event is a great time to meet the host, who can be the best person to connect you to others.
2. Dress the part
You’ve heard the adage: Dress for the job you want. The same applies to networking—dress how you want to be perceived, whether that’s CEO, marketing expert, or creative upstart. And don’t be afraid to stick out a little. A colorful, tasteful tie or scarf can be a great conversation starter and make you more memorable.
3. Go first
All conversations have to be initiated by someone, so why not be the person who breaks the ice? Instead of waiting around for another person to say hello, start the introductions yourself. People will be glad you did.
4. Abandon your friends
A wingman or woman can be comforting to chat with at an event full of strangers, but if you stick by your friends all night, you’ll miss out on opportunities to make new contacts. Venturing out on your own will compel you to talk to new people, and expand your business posse.
5. Have a succinct intro
What do you do? What are you working on? Surprisingly, many people at networking parties get tongue-tied—or conversely, way too ramble-prone—when asked simple questions. Do a little pre-event planning to come up with a short, but sweet sentence or two that quickly explains what you’re about.
6. Share a story
Introduce yourself with an anecdote that resonates, says marketing and communications executive Kat Krieger. Try telling a quick story about what you love or what you’re working on. Just make sure the story’s brief, so you don’t come across as an attention hog.
7. Stand in the traffic
Don’t park yourself in the back corner of the room if your goal is to meet people. Simply putting yourself where the people are will invite conversation. Try hanging out at the bar, by a busy door, or anywhere where people are milling about, and let the talking begin.
8. Befriend the loners
If you see people—who haven’t read this article—standing in an empty spot by themselves, go over and introduce yourself. This tactic is a lot easier than trying to break into a group already in conversation. Plus, the person you seek out will appreciate your friendliness, and might even be the connection you’re looking for.
9. Become a regular
Had a disappointing networking event? Don’t give up so fast. Keep going back, and people will start recognizing you and naturally become friendlier. You’ll start feeling more comfortable, too.
If you’re shy about beginning conversations, volunteering is a great way to get people to start conversations with you. Help out at an event, and you’ll talk with attendees as you greet them, check them in, or answer questions. After you’ve helped them with something—even if it’s something as simple as handing them drink tickets—they’ll naturally want to help you.2018 All rights reserved.