How to Level Up Your
Business Networking Skills
No matter what you do for work, you can benefit from networking. You never know who you’ll meet that can connect you with your next client or become your next mentor. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know what to do other than go to events, shake hands, hand out business cards, and hope that a connection has been made. But you can do better than that. Here’s how to level up your business networking skills.
Listen More, Pitch Less
You’ve probably heard the advice on how to craft the perfect sales pitch and give it to anyone who will listen. That’s true whether you’re hunting for a new job or selling a product for your employer. However, you’re unlikely to make much of an impression unless there is already a connection. The solution is to listen more to the other person. Try to ask questions, as this will demonstrate that you’re engaged. Talk about yourself, but form a connection rather than just giving a sales pitch. Wait until the appropriate time to give the pitch, if it is appropriate. Otherwise, you can simply give them your business card and follow up later.
Do Something Different Together
If you’re going to entertain prospective partners, don’t just go out for dinner and drinks. Do something different – something memorable and fun. You’ll create a positive impression by doing so, and they’re much more likely to remember you than if you were just one person they took out for drinks. One option is going bowling. Another is playing a few rounds of golf. Golf as a networking tool is not a myth; you spend several hours playing a competitive game, while you have many opportunities to talk.
However, know that your game will leave an impression on them whether you like it or not. This is why we would suggest you get yourself a golf simulator to get some practice in. If you’re looking for a good supplier, Rain or Shine Golf is a good option. They have a great selection of products for all budgets. All you have to do is set it up in a room with enough space and practice your swings so that you’ll at least look half decent on the links.
You’re more likely to hand out a hundred business cards or make 10 phone calls if you have a set goal to do so. You’ll go even further if you have an accountability partner or a log tracking your progress toward your goals. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you meet these goals, and that can motivate you to keep going.
Leverage Your Existing Network
A common mistake is assuming that networking only takes place in person, but it can take place online in teleconferences too. You can also use your existing network to connect with desirable contacts. For example, you can use social media sites to ask for introductions to a third party, using someone you both know as an intermediary.
Remember that networking doesn’t have to equal going to a conference and collecting all the business cards you can. You can go to lunch with a friend and get introduced to people there, or engage in spontaneous conversations at social events. Quality matters more than quantity.
Relationships are defined by give and take. It is wrong to only use others for your benefit, so return the favor wherever possible. Put in a good word with their boss or leave their business a positive review, if they help you. When they help you find a job, be willing to help them or their friend find one down the line. In the meantime, say thank you for their assistance.
Networking is the key to success in growing your business. Use our advice to go further than you would by shaking a lot of strangers’ hands and handing out a ton of business cards.