The Art of Networking

Wednesday, February 20 at 11:25 AM
Category: Business Banking

Everyone knows at least one really great networker. You know, the woman who knows everyone in the room. The guy who has a circle of people engaging with him and an outer circle waiting to get in on the conversation. 

But networking isn’t a skill these individuals were born with. More likely it’s something they intentionally built. You can too if you recognize networking is an art that can be perfected if you follow the steps to honing the craft.

Step 1: Preplanning

Before you walk into any event you need to get into the proper mindset, and decide what you want to achieve during the event.

A proper networking mindset means you must understand and embrace what all great networkers know: a networking event is meant to build a foundation for a trusted relationship. You’re not there to make a hard sell or to be the center of attention. Use this event to make genuine connections, get people talking (you should listen 80 percent of the time) and lay the foundation for the long-term. 

The second thing to do before you walk through the door is know what you want to get out of the event. Look at the attendee list (or Facebook event page) and decide which attendees you need to connect with. Can a current connection make an introduction? One powerful conversation with a sought after connection is worth ten times more than an event spent handing out business cards randomly. 

Step 2: Engage Onsite

It may seem simple, but how many times have you gone to a networking event and seen a guy with his head down responding to emails on his smartphone? Ignore your phone while you’re at the event so you can be fully engaged. 

Engagement also means being fully present with each conversation. A favorite networking quote is this, “If you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited.” Don’t be the person who scans the room looking for someone “better” to talk to when you should be focused on your current conversation.

Finally, ask probing questions and listen to the answers. You will be seen as a great networker if you get people talking. That’s because people enjoy and are comfortable talking about themselves. The more they talk the more you will learn about them and find common ground for personal or business connections.

Step 3: The Follow Up

What will you do when you get home or back to the office to solidify your position as a great networker? Did you promise someone a follow up on something? Do it now.

Did someone provide you an introduction or business lead? Send a thank you.

Sschedule a lunch, send a relevant article to continue a conversation, or send out some personalized LinkedIn invites to your new connections. Don’t let the good impression you started fade just because the event is over.

We think of networking as an art because we know it when we see it. But, perhaps it’s more of a science when you think about the deliberate steps that go into its creation. Art or science, it’s something that’s beautiful when done properly.  

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed. Find articles like this and much more in the online Arvest Biz Center.

Tags: Business Banking
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