Professional Development Tip of the Month: Networking

By Rachel Stiller, FLEX Events & Fundraising Committee Co-Chair

As a young professional, it is inevitable that at some point you will be networking. The difference is—will you do it well or poorly? Here are a few tips to start practicing now so that at you’ll feel confident and prepared at your next networking event:

First, take a moment to evaluate your body language and facial expressions. Your body language will be more evident to those around you than any words you say. Remind yourself to smile during conversations; this will help calm your nerves and others will see you as warm and inviting. By keeping your body language open and friendly, you will be more approachable and it will help you build rapport and trust.

Second, instead of waiting to be approached, take control and simply walk up to a person or a group, and say: “May I join you?” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies and remember that the most successful networkers are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Your goal is to be a conversationalist, not a talker.

Next, share your passions and be specific about your goals. Win people over with your enthusiasm. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to do what you do. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.

Finally, remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within a day or so of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) January 2020 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

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