Extroverted people usually feel more comfortable talking and networking with random people.
However, more people than you would think do not have good networking skills and often cringe at the thought of spending an hour exchanging trivial and boring dialogue and manipulating other people in attempt to gain an advantage for themselves or their business.
After you read this article, you will learn that the entire point of networking is to make lasting connections, sincerely share and accept advice from peers and in turn, start building mutually beneficial relationships with acquaintances and prospective clients that are valuable in both the near and far future.
Punctuality – Being fashionably late for a social event is fine, however showing up late to a professional networking is not recommended. It shows carelessness on your part.
Attitude and Authenticity – Put your best foot forward. Smile and be friendly. Introduce yourself and say "thank you" to the host and the attendees. Coming across standoffish and mean is not the message you want to convey when you are trying to build a solid clientele.
Ask and Share - Be prepared to share your knowledge with others. Do not be afraid to ask questions and gather information from others. In fact, do not be afraid to open a conversation with a question because it takes the pressure off you. However, try not to monopolize the conversation.
Body language – Body language is just as important as what comes out of your mouth. Firm handshakes show that you are truly interested in meeting a person. Make sure not to use a death drip though. It is also important to make strong eye contact to express interest and show respect. If your eyes are scanning the room when you are talking to someone, it can make them feel unimportant and uncomfortable.
Attire – Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the event. Clothing should be comfortable and fit properly.
Interest and Initiative – Approach people, especially industry big wigs. Ask them about themselves, large projects, hobbies, as well as their families. When you have common interests with someone, it is easier to connect with them. It makes the conversation natural and less awkward.
Follow up – It is your responsibility to follow up via email, however, it is important to note that you do not have their permission to add them to your mailing list or e-zine. This is certainly one way to annoy them and burn a bridge before one is developed.
No pitching allowed – Overtly selling yourself makes you come across disingenuous and phony. The first basic rule of networking is about gaining the trust of others while building relationships.
Referrals – Responding quickly and efficiently to referrals is necessary when building a clientele. You do not want to make others look bad by not responding in a timely manner. It is inconsiderate and unprofessional.