Networking is a necessary part of business and furthering your career, but it’s something many people dread! The daunting task of having to advocate for yourself or your company is what many people put off, but it’s a really important part of the professional world. If you’re someone who finds the thought of speaking to strangers in a business capacity a bit nerve-wracking, you could find that our tips help you feel that little bit more prepared. So, what are the networking skills you should know?
Active listening is the practice of really paying attention to what your conversation companion is saying. This results in you not having to repeat themselves, and a genuine interaction that could lead to a good business relationship. Active listening makes someone feel as though they are holding your full attention, and often allows you to get more out of the conversation than if you were slightly preoccupied.
Communication is one of the most important parts of any business relationship, and starting your networking journey off with excellent communication will allow you to go far. Whether this be in person, over the phone or via email, communicating effectively can help you convey what you’re looking for and what you can provide someone else. This consists of body language, your tone of voice and the questions you ask, such as open-ended questions.
It could seem surprising for us to include humour as a tip in a networking situation, as it can sometimes be rare in business and networking events, but it could help you go further for this very reason. Humour often puts people at ease, as well as breaking the ice between you and potentially building trust. It’s important to find the balance – too much could cause someone not to take you seriously, but a few jokes here and there can help you build beneficial relationships.
Polite and respectful
If someone feels respected, they are more likely to pursue a business relationship with you. Treat your prospective opportunities with the respect they deserve, and practice politeness at all times in a networking situation. This is especially important if you’re representing your company, as the impression you create won’t only reflect on you, but on your business as well. Demonstrate your respect by practicing active listening, don’t interrupt anyone, and communicate your interest well.
Confidence is what will help others take you seriously. The signals of confidence can be faked, so that even if you aren’t entirely confident, you can get by with others thinking you are! This can be by holding eye contact, using a friendly tone of voice, and staying engaged and progressing the conversation. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you could prepare talking points so that you aren’t left reaching for conversation when it starts to ebb.
Public speaking is the element that many feel uncomfortable with. Feeling comfortable with talking in public will mean that you come across confident and credible, and is the key part of networking, meaning you can speak to others at the event to further your career. Pay attention to the pace of your talking and your tone of voice, and make sure you take your time. There’s no rush! And remember, the key to feeling confident with public speaking is practice…
Follow up with the people you met
Networking doesn’t end when you leave the event. To build business relationships, you must work on the relationship outside of events and in-person meetings also. If you exchange email addresses for example, make sure to send a follow up email with a note to say thank you for the conversation, ask additional questions or express your pleasure in meeting them. This will give you the avenue you need to then be able to open the conversation into other things, solidifying your relationship.
As much as we wish it wouldn’t, our physical appearance does affect how we are perceived in business. We can make a good impression by ensuring we dress well. Decide how you would like to be seen (for example, professional, friendly etc), and adjust your wardrobe to achieve this. Your appearance is also impacted by your body language. Make sure you hold yourself confidently, standing tall with shoulders back, rather than caving in on yourself.
Whilst networking is an integral part of business, so is the work you do in your office! That office space should serve every need you have, whether this is multiple meeting rooms or a team kitchen to make those endless cups of tea. At Serviced Offices South London, we can be the ones to help you find the dream office for your team. Knowing South London well, we can help you find an incredible office in the area you’re looking for. Give us a call on 0208 315 6600 or email email@example.com.