Networking comes naturally for some, but not so much for others, writes Equitable Payments co-founder Darrah Brustein. Her tips:
- Start with the people you already know. Networking isn’t only about meeting new people. It’s also about strengthening relationships with people you already know.
- Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need to network. You will need it at some point.
- Don’t force your business cards on people. Offer your card only after you’ve had a conversation and asked for the other person’s card.
- Establish expectations. Tell people when and how you’ll contact them, and follow through.
- Pose good questions. Questions that don’t go straight to a person’s profession can make for deeper, more memorable connections.
- Create a connections calendar. This helps you remember to keep in touch with people every month or so.
- Find out what others need. Then try to help them get it by connecting them to people you know.
- Give before you receive. Networking is a two-way street. Don’t expect something in return immediately.
- Ask yourself “Why should they care?” This will help you come up with a way to describe yourself and what you do that will be interesting to others.
- Talk less than you listen. You can’t learn about other people if you’re doing all of the talking.
— Adapted from “16 Simple Tips for Networking Smarter,” Darrah Brustein, Business2Community and the Young Entrepreneur Council.