NETWORKING ~ MAKE A LASTING IMPRESSION22
Networking… What is it good for? A lot, actually. Whether you’re looking for a new opportunity or simply trying to meet like-minded individuals in your field, expanding your network is a great way to set yourself apart.
In a world full of over-scheduled professionals who have thousands of connections, you need to be memorable. Recruiters and colleagues will meet dozens, if not hundreds of people throughout a networking event. How can you be the person they remember when they return to their office the next day?
Here are a few networking tips to help you leave a lasting impression…
Give a firm handshake and maintain eye contact
Whether you’re networking professionally or joining a crowd to celebrate a friend’s birthday, it is imperative to offer a firm handshake and maintain eye contact throughout your conversations. Not only is it a sign of respect, but you are showing the other person that you are interested in what he or she has to say. Anyone can ask a question, people worth remembering pay attention to the answer, ask follow up questions, and make a connection.
Obviously, a handshake isn’t going to do all the heavy lifting in leaving a lasting impression, but it’s your first opportunity to showcase your confidence and sociability. Even though it sounds easy enough, there’s plenty to consider when it comes to handshake etiquette – from the length of the handshake to whether or not to use your left hand.
It may sound silly, but practicing your handshake with a family member or your significant other is a great way to prepare yourself before the big event.
Dress to impress
“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” The same is true about networking.”Dress for the connections you want to make, not for the connections you have.” If you show up to the event in a hoodie and jeans, you may be leaving the wrong lasting impression. For most networking events, business casual is suitable. Avoid anything too flashy and make sure that your outfit is neat and ironed.
You’ll also want to make sure that you are well-groomed. Facial hair is “in”. Looking like you may have a bird’s nest on the end of your chin, is not. Pay a visit to your barber or hairdresser a few days before the event. If you feel self-conscious about an aspect of your appearance, putting in some extra effort can go a long way. Feeling comfortable in your skin will go a long way in helping you feel comfortable while networking.
There are a few simple and inexpensive fixes for some trouble spots. For example, if the impending networking event caused a stress pimple, you can consider some concealer to cover up. Or, if your hair is thinning, a topical treatment like Minoxidil can help you achieve thicker, lustrous locks. You can also consider brightening your smile with a teeth whitening treatment to dazzle your potential new connections.
Paying someone a meaningful compliment will ensure that they remember you long after your conversation. When a compliment is genuine, it demonstrates you are doing more than going through the networking motions. You are genuinely invested in the conversation and the person. You are invested enough to notice things about their appearance or something they said. On the other hand, you want to make sure that you aren’t laying it on too thick. Don’t be the person who praises every little thing about someone else. Instead, aim to give a meaningful compliment; the more specific and sincere, the better. Who knows? They may notice something special about you as well and give you one back! Showcasing what you have to offer is why you’re networking in the first place, right?
Find common ground
Nothing cements a memorable networking conversation like finding common ground with the other person. The best part is that it doesn’t need to be too serious. Similarities could be as simple as learning you come from the same hometown or have the same favorite sports team.
What’s important is that you discover something unique between the two of you that the other person can tie directly to you in their memory. Asking questions will show that you are interested in what they have to say and will help you find common ground.
Perhaps the best way that you can leave a lasting impression is by following up after the networking event. However, you don’t want to appear too eager and follow up immediately. Instead, wait a day or two before reaching out. Depending on how your conversation went and what you are looking for, there are plenty of ways to follow up after a networking event. By doing so, you are showing that you were happy to meet them and want to continue the working relationship. Most importantly, you will continue to be in the front of their mind long after the event is over. This is the ultimate goal of networking.