How to network with confidence

Whether you’re new to networking, want to gain more confidence in building business relationships or feel better equipped at events, here are a few tips that can help you to build your network connections.

Be approachable
Smile! A person is more approachable with a smile on their face exuding a warm, friendly attitude as opposed to someone with a scowl and grumpy demeanour. People gravitate towards openness so that they can comfortably introduce themselves to you.

Timing is key
Walking into a group discussion whilst in full flow can be daunting. Time your entry, smile and listen sincerely, then find a quiet moment to pose a question to the group rather interrupting someone and offering a strong opinion which can leave them with a bad first impression of you.

Make a good first impression by being a great listener
Listening attentively to others allows us to gain insight, form fair conclusions and build trust. Nelson Mandela said, “I have always endeavoured to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion.” Ask people thoughtful questions about themselves to leave a good lasting impression on them.

Stop saying sorry
If you have been apologising a lot it may be because you feel like you’re an imposition, but you’re not. Apologising also shows others that you’re a novice and lack self-confidence. So stop apologising for wanting to learn more and for asking for help. Believe in your capabilities.

Be well equipped
If you’re feeling nervous then preparing yourself ahead of time with a set of ice-breaker questions, and a perfected elevator pitch with clear and concise answers to any anticipated questions can help you feel more calm and collected.

Learn and say their name
It is important to say a persons’ name as soon as you meet them. It not only helps you to remember that person by connecting a name to a face, but it also shows your interest in that person and makes them feel more comfortable.

Interesting people have interests
What are your passions outside of work? Surfing, photography or knitting? Interesting people have interests, and worth mentioning as you’ll be able to talk passionationately about them. People find hobbies interesting and engaging which will make it easier for people to remember you.

Follow up on your connections
You have made the first step by taking their business card and to build strong business connections and relationships, email them within the next 24-48 hours whilst you’re fresh in their memory. It is also important that if you’ve promised any new contacts any reports, articles or websites to email them to show that you’re trustworthy and credible.

Networking is about being generous and helping others to feel good about themselves. Share your interests, be encouraging and authentic. Simon Sinek said it perfectly when he said: “The value of networking is not measured by the number of people we meet but by the number of people we introduce to others.”

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