Effective Networking Skills to take the Awkwardness of out Business mixing and mingling

Kristin Marquet

Before I started working in the fashion and public relations’ industries, I felt uncomfortable in social situations, was petrified of meeting and talking to new people, and hated public speaking for many reasons but shyness topped the list.  Yet, once I learned effective networking skills, my network of fashion and media contacts exploded.

Networking can be scary especially if you feel uncomfortable in social situations.  However, effective networking skills are essential to meeting other individuals, generating good contacts, and building solid and relationships. 

When you have a solid network you can rely on, connecting with potential clients, partners, and employees becomes much easier because you don’t have to wait for an awkward introduction.  Additionally, the more individuals that view you and your business positively, the more leverage you will have.  

Follow these tips to build a strong network:

1.  Sincerity is a must.  Most business people can smell phoniness from a mile away.

2.  Determine your goals and objectives.  Before attending any networking event – conference, luncheon, holiday party or any other business or social event, make sure it is for the right reason.  Some events are for making contacts, while others are for learning a certain trade or industry.  If you are a make up artist, I don’t think you would attend the American Bar Association Mid Winter Conference for Surety and Fidelity. 

3.  Join as many associations and groups to expand your professional circle.  Many groups allow prospective members to preview how groups are organized by sitting in a seminar or attending an event.

4.  Offer to volunteer in different organizations and events.

5.  While networking, ask questions – who, what, where, when and how as opposed to questions that can answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” 

6.  By joining different groups and associations, your brand becomes transparent and you become a resource to others.  It will also help you become an expert within your industry.

7.  If you have a certain person that would like to speak to, make sure you have a clear approach.  You don’t want to sound like you have no idea what you are talking about when you open the conversation.  

8. Have a clear mission of how you can help networking professionals. 

9. Respond quickly and efficiently to referrals.  Don’t make others look bad by not delivering results that you promised.

10.  Don’t try to sell yourself.  Networking is about gaining leverage by building relationships with other professionals within your industry.

11.  Dress appropriately for the occasion.  Most networking events require business attire.  Remember, first impressions are the only impressions that count. 

In this day and age, networking is a must.  It doesn’t matter whether you are looking to expand your business network or looking for a job, networking is critical to a healthy career.  The more resources you have, the more leverage and opportunities will be readily available.

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