Networking: Hunt or Nurture?
Many people believe that to network is about how many business cards you can bring back to the company, using this as a measurement tool, however, this is untrue.
Networking professionals understand that networking is about nurturing the relationships around you, and not just a hunting competition of how many cards you are able to keep in the end of the event. The most important thing instead is to develop a professional relationship with potential partners or clients that can help the business to grow, therefore, meaningful relationships.
After research we came up with important advices for those who will attend these networking events:
1. Know yourself and how will it be easier for you to fit in
There are different ways to expose yourself, meaning, different personality styles. It is good to find one style which you are comfortable with and can go with it, so people are comfortable in knowing that you are a certain way and will easily know how to approach you or be approached by you.
2. Business cards are important
It is of extreme importance to always take your business cards with you and make sure your business cards have the necessary information written on it, such as how to reach you through social media as well.
3. Memorise people's names
Although it is underestimated it is necessary if you truly want to build up a relationship. When you call people by their names, they are more likely to respond positively and engage with you.
4. Ask Questions and allow them to talk to you without being interrupted
Try to be as natural as you can, the conversation should be easy and avoiding asking personal questions is crucial. However, in case the conversation is boring you, be careful in finding your way towards escape, don't make it seem that you are bored, but instead find a non- obvious way out.
5. Control your body language
The way you express through your facial expressions and hands for example are of great importance. Everything you do sends out a specific message, therefore pay attention. If you don’t move your hands at all when speaking or don’t look at the person's eyes it might seem that you are insecure, or uninterested. Take time to research about body language so you are able to know more about yourself and improve.
6. Be polite and diplomatic
Attitude is important, etiquette is important, being diplomatic is important. For example, if you are with your hands holding food and drinks, how will you shake hands?
Also, do not interrupt two people when they are talking to each other, as they might be speaking about something important, or confidential. The safer way is to always approach someone that is alone.
7. Contact them back
Normally it is a time frame of 48 hours to contact again that person, it is of great importance in order to maintain the relationship, give continuity to a possible partnership or potential client.
The reason for networking is to obtain the goal of meeting people that can bring valuable to the projects that you are working on, therefore it is indeed not important at all if you have a great number of business cards. People normally bring value to each other when there are points of connection, so yes, it is better your spend you networking event with one person, one meaningful potential relationship, than to have the business cards of all the companies represented in the event.