Networking is an essential aspect of doing business. It’s an efficient way to learn about various occupations and industries. Additionally, if done properly, it increases your personal and business circles, and can ultimately help you find a job or grow your current business.
Networking is all about establishing and building relationships and learning and sharing information. It’s NOT about pushing your business cards on others it’s not about hitting people up for a job.
So how do you establish and build those relationships?
Make sure you’re participating in “One on Ones.”
A “One on One” is a 30 – 60 minutes long sit-down meeting where two people learn more about each other. The purpose is to begin to establish a professional relationship that exceeds the general greetings passed around in networking meetings. Remember, each person has their own circle of influence, and the more people in your circle, the more potential your own influence has.
To prevent a meeting filled with awkward exchanges and thumb twiddling, go in with a game plan. It also helps if you can learn a few things about the other person in advance. This will give you immediate topics from which you can start a conversation.
Things to discuss:
Do they have any kids, pets…
–Where are they from?
It’s amazing how instantly a bond forms when people discover they’re from the same town or school.
–What got them interested in their current profession?
This one can end up taking up much of the time. People love talking about themselves, and if they’re passionate about their work, this will likely be a rather informative answer.
–Ask them how you or your contacts could potentially help them increase their business. Remember, these meetings are extensions of the group networking meetings and are about relationship building. If you show a genuine interest in their needs and how you can help them, it’s an excellent way to build rapport with them.
“One on Ones” might seem intimidating, but if you remember to focus on learning more about the other person, they’ll flow much easier than you might expect. After the visit has concluded, and you have returned to your desk, send them a short email letting them know you appreciated their time and enjoyed the visit. If any specific action items had been discussed, such as offering an introduction to someone else, make sure you follow through with your promise.