Networking Tips: Find Your Own Style
- Eye Contact: Check!
- Firm Handshake: Check!
- Good Listening: Check!
- Conversation starter: Check
- Ask good questions: Check!
All the above networking tips can be found in virtually any book, website, article, social media post, or video about networking.
The truth is, those things are important. But an even bigger truth is that you still need to be yourself. Your AUTHENTIC self. If your networking skills are too canned and not enough off-the-cuff you come across as boring.Boring people aren’t memorable. You want to be remembered in a good way.
Networking Tips for Being Yourself
- Relax. You aren’t on an interview (yet), so approach networking like a dinner party or family gathering. Just talk. Be normal. Do a fair amount of listening and talking.
- Dress Like Yourself. Networking is not as formal as an interview. You will feel more like yourself if you are dressed like yourself. Not the lazy, weekend, binge watching version. But definitely more casual than a 5 course meal–or an interview.
- Share a bit more about yourself. Again, networking is more relaxed–or it should be. Open up a bit, share some interesting personal things. It is okay to connect by sharing similarities and mutual interests like hobbies and passions, that probably wouldn’t come up in an interview.
- Ask interesting and leading questions. Find a way to ask specific questions. Also, asking for advice is a real door opener. People love to share their knowledge and feel like they help people. If you are talking with a health coach, instead of asking, “Do you like helping people?” ask, “What is the hardest part of getting people to break a bad habit?” People will remember those who ask them unique questions.
- Offer Something in Return. If you are generous and helpful, it also makes a lasting impression. It also makes it easier for the other person to want to help you back. Keep it light, and don’t over promise. If you can send a link for a job board, offer social media advice, or put them in touch with a key person–do it.
Make Real Connections when Networking
Some people approach networking like a contest to see how many hands they can get their business card into in the shortest amount of time. You do want to get your name and face (and card) out there, but it is way more important and effective to make real connections–you never know where they may lead.
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