Building and keeping good relationships has always been important in business and even in the 21st Century the best way to do this is in person. Although social networking sites like Linkedin can be utilized as a good way of developing an existing relationship, they can not replace face to face communication.
Whether you are attending a conference with hundreds of delegates or taking part in an informal game of golf you need to remember to socialize with those around you as they may be in a position to help you professionally.
Many people have trouble with the basics of socializing while trying to stay professional and as a result often miss out on the benefit that comes from it, so for these people we have prepared a short guide on the dos and the don’ts of networking.
Firstly, you must remember that first impressions are very important and the you will be judged by your appearance and your body language as well as what you say so present yourself as you want to be seen. This doesn’t always mean wearing a formal suit. You need to dress for the event so if you are meeting a group of young advertising executives, you may want to dress a little less formally. It is worth doing a little bit of research before you arrive to make sure that you are suitably dressed.
Of course first impressions are only a part of it, what you say is important. However, do not make the mistake of starting your conversation with business. If you have enough time try to break the ice with a little small talk first, just remember to stay away from any sensitive topics. These short informal conversations will help you get to know who you are talking to, which may be very useful later on. You could also try to build a rapport with them by agreeing with things they say but don’t agree with everything as you may appear insincere.
In more crowded settings remember that even if you have found someone you enjoy talking to and want to continue the conversation more, it may be more useful to mingle and meet as many people as possible. Just make sure that you have exchanged business cards before you move on to the next person.
Some private organizations have even started arranging networking events in which you will meet only people who work in a certain area or at a certain level so you can count on meeting the kind of people you are interested in and the kind of people who may be able to help you achieve your professional goals. If you see one of these events, try to take advantage of it as much as you can.
You should also remember that if you want to build these relationships it will take work. You have to keep in touch with these new contacts for them to be useful for you. You could do this either through an online networking site or with a more personal touch by phone or email.
And lastly, even a trip to the gym could end up being a chance to network so always be prepared and make sure that you have a business card with you at all times.
At the end of the day the people you have met could be potential co-workers or even employers so try to make yourself as appealing as you can.