Now more than ever, business networking is vital for your career success. Studies show that over 70 percent of people have found their jobs through some form of networking. Even if you’re not on the job hunt, you’re probably aware that it’s hard to expand your success if you don’t expand your connections.
While business networking might seem daunting, it’s a lot easier than it looks – especially if you use some expert tips from Dale Carnegie, who is the author of the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book is regarded as a staple for making valuable connections in business.
I recommend you read the whole thing if you get a chance. For now, take a look at four of Carnegie’s tips – you’ll be amazed at how quickly they’ll take you on the path to great networking:
Have a plan
“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.” — Dale Carnegie
What is it that you want to specifically do business networking for? Do you want to meet people that have the same interests? Do you want to market your products and services? Are you looking for opportunities to add someone as part of your team? Knowing what you intend to do is a big step in creating the most effective path to get you to where you want to be. Look for events related to your networking intentions and plan to attend with a prepared agenda, in case you have to discuss your business with the people you will meet.
Be in the right place with the right people
“If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.”
Go to events where people that you intend to meet will be attending. Successful people hang out with equally successful colleagues to exchange ideas and build relationships. Find events that will take you right where the action is and get ready to introduce yourself. Make sure you have your business cards ready and you’ve practiced your elevator speech, fluid and adaptable, before going to the event.
Come out of your shell
“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Not all of us are extroverts who can just show up and light up the room with a take-charge attitude. In fact, about nearly 60% of adults are shy, according to studies.
But if you can make yourself come out of your shell and get out there to conquer the world, your chances of being successful (not only in networking but in your other ventures) will be huge. Don’t let the fear of leaving your comfort zone prevent you from achieving success in life. Remember, nobody is born being great at networking; just like any other skill, they had to take baby-steps to improve over time.
Be yourself. Be genuine
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
Dale Carnegie stresses the importance of being genuine and sincere when dealing with people especially during the initial meeting. Show them what you got and be memorable – but give them a chance to shine as well. Give them sincere compliments and listen to what they have to say. By paying attention to the people you interact with, you will be dealt with the same courtesy. Networking is a two-way street, after all.
The bottom line: Networking might seem intimidating, but just like with most new ventures, once you step out of your comfort zone, it’s easier than you think – and well worth the effort.
Do you have any other tips for effective business networking? I’d love to hear from you!