In an age of instant gratification and superficiality, many people struggle with playing anything that could be considered “the long game”. Whether this is in relationships or business, people generally want results as quickly as possible and become impatient when that isn’t the case.
However, the world of business is not an area where instant results can be expected. Whether it is growing a company’s profitability or expanding the reach of salesperson, these efforts take time and tons of energy. There may be no better example of this dynamic than in the world of networking.
Because of this, let’s look at a few tips that can help you improve your networking game and take it to the next level.
Practice on Your Own First
Perfecting your pitches, general social skills and ability to share in others’ interests is a must if you want to level up your networking game.
Many top networking gurus recommend practicing conversation scenarios in front of a mirror to have a better understanding of your natural body language and facial expressions.
Many networking opportunities can be found in social sport settings, with golf being a prime example. Some people have even purchased golf simulators to use at home and allow themselves to become better at the sport for networking opportunities; you can buy them at Rain or Shine Golf, as one example.
Build Meaningful Bonds
Taking time to create real genuine connections with individuals is a sure-fire way to build real networking opportunities. All too often, basic networking “professionals” attempt to engage in rehearsed, two-dimensional pitches and conversations that impress no one.
You may not be able to spend a half-hour or more with an individual in every case – especially in group settings – but maximize the time spent building those bonds while also respecting the needs of the individual (who may or may not have as much available time).
One of the easiest ways to take standard networking approaches and make them inherently valuable is to be of use to others. When you are able to offer yourself up as a resource, you can expect the individual(s) in question to be more receptive to what you have to say. When they can take advantage of assistance or advice you have to offer, they become much more likely to provide you with similar help in the future.
This can also be a great way to make a name for yourself and preemptively build networking potential with associates of those who have benefited from your help. Never underestimate just how far a few helpful words or an introduction can go toward upping your networking game long-term.
Quality Is Better Than Quantity
Nobody likes a physical spammer. People who insist on handing out business cards like candy and who try to make as many “impressions” in as short of a period as possible rarely make real connections.
This is why you absolutely want to show people that you have more to offer than just an advertised service or product. In conjunction with building meaningful bonds, spend enough time with people and don’t immediately jump into a pitch if you want to improve your networking game.
Don’t Forget About Social Media
It is easy to forget that not all high-quality networking occurs in person anymore. Many may deride social media due to its relatively impersonal nature, but there are plenty of networking opportunities on social media platforms like LinkedIn and even Facebook.
Be selective about who you approach and try to minimize out-of-the-blue conversations where possible, but don’t be afraid to take chances. It is much easier to reach out to multiple people via social media than to wait for the next in-person networking function.
Keep these tips in mind and you can convert your amateur networking game into a professional enterprise in no time at all!