I've been a Sales Executive for almost 10 years. I was responsible for convincing people that they needed to part with hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars. I started every transaction the same - relationship building through Networking. Today, I'm going to share with you the best tips I have for Networking Effectively as an Influencer.
When I first started out as a Sales Executive, it was rough. I didn't understand the importance of building relationships with people early enough so I could leverage them down the line. Leveraging relationships is just a fancy, concise way of saying: using the relationships you have to further whatever it is that you want to do whether it be in your personal life or your career. Ultimately, it meant opportunities took a lot longer to happen for me and I was working much harder than my networking superstar colleagues.
That's the power of Networking. It allows you to work smarter, not harder.
But it **only** works if you do it a certain way. Today, I want to help you with that.
To be effective at Networking, you need to know how to get other people talking. Ask questions about the other person so they get comfortable having a conversation with you. People generally enjoy talking about themselves and once the conversation warms up, they will more than likely begin to ask you questions about you and what you do.
When people do ask you about yourself, tell them about you as a professional first. These days, most Influencers also have a day job, but if you're at an event for Influencers or if you're hoping to build a relationship with someone whom you believe can help you grow your business as an Influencer, that's the only thing they really need to know. If you're a vlogger focusing on daily family vlogs, say that. If you're a blogger who reviews the latest nonfiction titles, say that. And if you're a Beauty Influencer on the 'gram - say that! Be proud of what you do as an Influencer regardless of how big or little your following is. A word from the wise: don't make it too complicated to explain what you do. If you need more than 30 seconds to explain what you do, go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to explain your influencer in as short of a time span as possible.
Also, don't get too personal. This is not the time to talk about your recent issues with keeping alcohol down, or how you fainted with you saw Ed Sheran live in concert last month and had to go to the hospital for a mild concussion.
Genuinely listen to what they have to say and reference something they've mentioned in your answers to their questions. People are always taken aback when I'm able to mention something obscure that they mentioned and relate it to something else that they're talking about. I think listening has become a bit of a lost art form that people will always appreciate. A great way to differentiate yourself from the crowd as an Influencer is to be an active listener.
Find something that you have in common on a personal or professional front. This is important for them to see the human side of you and to see a bit of themselves in you as well. People like to do things for people they feel a connection with in some way, shape, or form, and finding something in common will go a long way with that. For me, I like finding something a bit more personal to relate to, but in a power networking event where there are a lot of people and not much time, it can be hard to do this. This all ties into the central theme of this post and it's this: make sure you're always listening and asking open-ended questions that get the other person talking.
Pay attention. Don't have wondering-eyes for other people that are in the room. People notice when you're not giving them your full-attention and it's a major turn off. If you're hoping to leverage this relationship with the person you're speaking to sometime in the future, you'd better leave them with positive memories of their interaction with you. This begins and ends by treating them like they are the most important person in the room. Because at that moment - they are.
Don't monopolize their time. This is especially important if you've gotten the chance to talk to someone who is in high demand. There is nothing worse than being the person who doesn't know when to move on to other people in the room. It's not fair to the person you're speaking with and it's not fair to other people in the room who want to speak with this person either. I say to limit your first interaction with a new contact to just a few minutes, circle the room speaking to both new and old friends and then circle back to your contact of interest when you see they are free, again.
Ask them for their business card. This one is a bit old school and with the advent of the internet, I would say it's not completely necessary either. Alas, it's still a nice way to end a conversation and leave a professional impression. Once there is a natural lull in the conversation, thank them for their time and ask them for their business card. Not only is it a good way for you to get their contact details, but it's the perfect transition for you to give them your business card as well without seeming pushy.