Even in the professional world, some people just do not have good conversation and social skills. They have difficulty meeting and communicating with others. This can seriously affect your networking which is one of the essentials to a good business. The old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has never been truer. Most people further their careers through networking. By working hard and meeting people, you can set up a list of contacts and associates that can help you. But how do you become good at networking? What if you are naturally shy? Just because you may not really know how to meet people doesn’t mean you can’t learn.
Here are some tips on how you can become good at networking.
Networking For Shy People
Networking for shy people can be really difficult. They tend to let their fears of insecurity and rejection keep them from making those necessary contacts. In order to break away from that habit, people who are shy can start out small and simple. Seek out friends and family for your first networking contacts. Because you are familiar and comfortable around them, it will be much less intimidating. After you have made those phone calls or emails to them, next try someone who you know but may not necessarily be close to. An example would be someone you went to college or high school with or even someone who you’ve met at the gym. Keep it friendly and mention that since you knew them, you thought you’d give them a professional call.
Make It Seem Like You Are Doing Them The Favor
Keep In Contact With People
Most of the time, we know a lot of people who may not be interested in our business at that particular time. That is no reason to suddenly cut off all contact with them. Stay in touch with people that you like. You never know what the future may bring. People that you get along with may one day be able to help you and your business out.
Make Contact With Like Minded People
People who have the same interests as you and think as you do will be more likely to help you out at some point. They will be more likely to show an interest in your business and could turn into a valuable resource. When meeting people, you should definitely gravitate towards people with the same interests.
Know Where To Look
Although you can talk to people at parties, clubs, church, or wherever, some of the best places to tap into are internet sites. The internet is THE place to network. You have a ton of sites available to you such as LinkedIn, Myspace, and Facebook, not to mention all the different forums and blogs. By using these sites, you can meet a large number of people as well as keep in touch with classmates and old friends. Every contact you make, every name you add to your Friends list, is another person in your network.
Talk To Everyone
It is true that you should seek out people with the same interests as you but if a stranger at a party walks up to you and says “hi”, don’t clam up. This is a perfect opportunity to get to know that person and, in return, they get to know you. Never let these opportunities go by because you never know who you might meet that could help you out.
Give And Take
Networking is not all about trying to use your contacts to benefit yourself. Sometimes, it is about helping others. If someone is in your network of contacts, chances are you are also in theirs. Being good at networking is like being a good neighbor. You help people out when you can and they appreciate it more. If they appreciate you then they will be much more liable to help you out when you need it.
Keep Information On You
Because you never know who you are going to meet or when, you should always carry some kind of information regarding you and your business. If you have any fliers or brochures about what you do, carry a few with you to hand out. And always carry several business cards on you with your contact info as well as a brief sentence that describes what kind of business you are in.
Keep Up With Your Network
Once you have built up your network, you need to maintain it. This involves several things. First, you want to follow up on any calls or emails you made to potential network contacts. This keeps them in the loop and shows them that you still value them as a resource. Just because they can’t help you now doesn’t mean that can’t change. Some good ways to do this is to send out cards during holidays or birthdays. You can also send out a newsletter to keep them informed of what is going on with you and your business. Next, you need to organize your network. You need to create a database with everyone’s name and contact information for easy and quick reference. Try prioritizing your network by putting everyone that you have regular contact with in one category while occasional contacts go in another category.
Sure, networking is all about making contacts that you can use as a resource. However, don’t be a fake as you do it. Don’t simply use people and then drop them when they are no longer of any benefit. Don’t put on airs or act in any way that is misleading. The best way to network, to make lasting contacts that are beneficial, is to just be yourself. Even if you are still shy, you don’t have to try to act overly aggressive or spontaneous. When you act like yourself, people will see you for who you are and they will be more liable to help you out if they feel you are genuine. So don’t be a jerk.