Make networking your New Year’s goal

Networking is a very effective way of learning about other people and companies. Just as importantly, networking allows others to learn about you. When you network, consider not only what you want from others but what you have to offer.

Follow these tips to improve your networking in the new year:

1. Prepare your elevator speech. Imagine you’re in the elevator with a prospective client on the way to your meeting room. This is the first time you’ve met, and the client asks you to share something about yourself or your company. Your elevator speech should contain the following elements:

  • A short, compelling statement
  • Two to three headlines
  • An invitation for further conversation (Try, “I’d enjoy telling you more. What’s the best time to catch you?”)

2. Establish rapport. Quickly connect with and gain the trust of others. It has huge payoffs. Building rapport is a matter of knowing how to project an image to others that gains a connection. Plan ahead and focus on the following:

  • Maintain good eye contact.
  • Listen carefully—be engaged, not distracted.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal cues—posture, facial expressions, eye contact.
  • Repeat what you’ve just heard to show you’re listening and to clear up confusion.
  • Respect personal boundaries.
  • Be professional—do not use potentially disrespectful language or tell off-color jokes.
  • Remember names.

3. Avoid certain topics. Even in an informal situation such as networking, there are topics you should avoid. Your goal is to make a positive impression, not engage in a heated debate. Consider avoiding the following topics (or proceeding with extreme caution):

  • Politics
  • Costs
  • Religion
  • Hurtful gossip
  • Overly personal questions
  • Your health or health issues
  • Other controversial topics

Your professional presence can play an important role in your networking activity. If you need to brush up on your image and etiquette skills to make a great impression, Dardis can help.