Networking is amazing for businesses, not only will it get your name out there, you will meet like-minded people who may be able help you and vice versa. Our networking ninja Lateef Badat has guest written us a blog where he gives helpful tips and tricks when it comes to networking!
This month we will be looking at how to network and be a confident one. Are you avoiding the chance to meet others, make new contacts and grow your business?
Relax! I will be sharing tried and tested tips that will work for you.
I may be the #NetworkingNinja now, but I was the guy you would find at the back of the room on my own feeling nervous, anxious and wondering what I was doing? Everybody ‘seemed’ to know each other, and I felt out of my depth thinking all these are ‘proper’ businesses, so not sure who would want to talk me….
All these were my own perceptions and not the fact, but it took me a while to learn to relax and be myself in the networking environment. If you are someone that wants to attend networking events and enjoy your experience, then follow this simple but effective tip.
Tips on how to network
1. Planning and Preparation
Something I found have found really useful is starting out with a mind-set that will help you relax and look forward to attending. The more relaxed you are the more you will be yourself and this will reflect in your body language and be very natural.
This will really help break the ice and it will cause people to reciprocate, so you are off to a great start. Smiling will elevate your mood, by boosting your brain through increasing dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. So a smile will give you the feel good factor and help you relax, manage anxiety and prepare you for attending a networking event.
To practice, look for opportunities where you can beam your beautiful smile and see what response you get. Try this with colleagues in the office and when you are at a meeting and your next networking event. You can follow up with a “Hi” “Hello” “How are you” all these are a good way to get a conversation started.
3. The Handshake
If you’ve attended networking events before, you will know that there is a lot of handshaking that goes on, and it’s a great way to start off a conversation and adding a beaming smile will help break the ice and also get you off to a great start.
4. Bone Crusher
Just be natural with your grip and don’t be a bone crusher! Neither make it so it’s like shaking a limp hand. Practice this with people and get a natural balance of confident non-verbal actions with a purposeful handshake. If you notice that your palms get sweaty then make sure they are nice and dry before you shake hands.
5. Shaky hand man!
As you practice and progress you will find your own balance as to what feels right for you. As well as the reaction you have had, how it’s received and what you may try differently next time. Avoid prolonged handshakes and vigorously shaking someone’s hand at the risk of removing the arm from its socket!
6. Fist bumps
I have banged out quite a few of these with people I know well and it’s based on having a mutual understanding and previous relationships. At some events where I know the people to be rappers then it’s worked really well!
7. Get in first
Make the first move and confidently extend your arm out with a nice smile. “Hi it’s Lateef, nice to meet you” This will show confidence and make people feel relaxed and part of the initial step to starting a conversation. It will also help you feel at ease if you are a little nervous. Just be aware of the circumstances as at some events people have a plate of food in one hand and a drink in the other!
8. Eye contact
Good eye contact is important to mirror your non-verbal communication and be sure to hold the gaze so it’s more of an acknowledgment / recognition and not a stare! If you are smiling and your body language is congruent with being open and genuine then it will be very natural.
9. Knock backs
In the very rare occasion you extend your arm out and the person hasn’t yet met your handshake, then remain composed. Either wait a second, whilst keeping firm eye contact and let your facial expression fill with such a smile and happy emotion that it overcomes their reluctance. Remember you are at networking event and people are expecting to meet each other and handshakes are a very normal part of the meet and greet.
As I mentioned before, be aware of the circumstances and give yourself the best opportunity to present yourself, offer the handshake and be in control of the environment in order to ensure it is reciprocated.
In over 20 years of networking I can only think of about one or two occasions where the person just left me ‘hanging’ and I simply smiled wider, leaned in ever so slightly and in a very clear voice said “I hope you’d shake my hand – as my arm is feeling a bit heavy” both times the other people around us saw the funny side and the person did shake my hand. You can either try something like this or calmly pull back your hand.
All of these tips are only effective if you have the opportunity to try them out for real. A number of my clients have been using a combination of these techniques at various networking events. A few clients in particular attended a large event with 120 in attendance. A great way to practice!
Where to go from here
Now you know how to network.The only way to put these tips into practice is to take action and attend a networking meeting. Start with an event that’s not too busy and where you will feel relaxed and bring to practice.
If you would like more networking help why not come along to one of Boosts’ amazing courses on the 5th December 4pm-8pm. This a great opportunity to train with me for this half day workshop and if you meet the eligibility criteria then you can benefit from a fully funded place!
This engaging and practical workshop will allow you to:
· Plan, Prepare and Practice being a confident networker.
· Learn how to start, maintain and move on from a conversation.
· Build effective rapport to develop quality relationships.
· Learn how to stand out from the crowd and keep on brand.
· Eliminate networking nerves and anxiety so you are calm and relaxed.
· Prepare / improve your 1 minute pitch / introduction.
· Learn to listen out for buying signals.
· Identify what makes a good follow-up.
Places are strictly limited and I have had a lot of interest already. So, to ensure your place and learn more, email me firstname.lastname@example.org
For anyone networking worries please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
For more courses that will help your business boom, click here
Stay tuned for our next guest blogger!