These days, we are always surrounded by technology. You jump from a smartphone to a laptop to a tablet depending on what needs to be done, and it’s easy to spend a whole day barely looking anyone in the eye.
This is a shame.
Small business owners are busy, sure. Everyone is busy. But a hectic schedule is no excuse for a lack of socializing and respect for others.
Networking is a term that has a bad rap, but when done right is crucial to your professional success. Though men and women have different approaches to networking, several tips can help both genders improve their skills.
First, it’s important to recognize that networking isn’t all about what you can gain, but also what you can offer. If you find that you hit it off with someone who can bring visibility to your business, that’s great, but what can you offer them? Consider your role in the professional relationship and always give back when you can.
It might sound exhausting, but the best networkers are those who see an opportunity to connect with every person they meet. Networking is most effective when you have a solid foundation with the other person, so it’s fine to look to your current friends, family, and community leaders for support. Chat up strangers, attend conferences and treat everyone with kindness and respect. You never know who is going to play a significant role in the success of your company and demonstrating integrity from the beginning can go a long way.
When you attend a conference or industry event, it’s a good idea to know your networking goals going in. Do your research ahead of time and figure out whom you’d like to meet and what they could do for you. If you don’t know what you want, it’s going to be pretty difficult to ask for help from others. Go into every networking experience with clear-cut goals and you’ll get more out of it.
If you’re more of an introvert and find the concept of networking unpleasant, don’t worry. You aren’t putting your business at a disadvantage. Technology has made it easier than ever to reach out to people in your field and magnify your message. Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, for example, can help you connect with people virtually, so a face-to-face meeting down the line doesn’t feel so intimidating.