5 Simple Networking Tips for Budding Entrepreneurs
Learning how to network and meet people has always been a key to success. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” For some, the skill of connecting with people and leaving a lasting impression comes with ease, yet for others it can be a challenging or stressful occurrence. The following networking tips for entrepreneurs will help you become more confident and comfortable in the presence of people you have never met before. Practicing these methods in your day to day life or with family and friends can help you develop into a master networker.
Maintaining Eye Contact
Looking straight into the eyes of an individual is one of the strongest non-verbal methods of communication. By learning to connect through your eyes, you automatically communicate to someone that you respect them and are making an effort to stay attentive to them. It is important to realize that a lot of people are not able to hold eye contact, yet it sends a message of confidence, stability and a sense of high self-esteem. As you improve your communication skills you will notice that those who are not able to match you and hold eye contact are typically lacking confidence. It gives you insights into the person you are speaking with, which would not be otherwise verbally communicated. Once you develop confidence in maintaining eye contact with one individual, it is a good idea to practice with two or more people at a time as well. Further develop this skill by finding a rhythm for bouncing from one person to the other depending on the focus of the conversation.
Smile and Keep It Light
Attitude is everything, and a positive attitude is attractive to others. By remembering to smile during your conversation, it will help you to loosen up and stay comfortable. In turn, others will feel more comfortable around you. It does not hurt to try finding common ground with people and include light conversation about the aspects of your lives that you have in common. Finding these shared experiences or thoughts can give you the opportunity to land a small joke or two, further setting your counterpart at ease.
The Art of Listening Well
People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care! It’s easy to jump into a conversation and talk about yourself. However, when networking with other entrepreneurs you want to keep in mind that they will have the same tendency to talk about themselves. It is a natural human response, especially if they are nervous about the impression they are trying to leave with you. There is a reason you have two ears and only one mouth, that reason being that you listen more than you speak. By focusing intently on what the other person is saying the opportunity to ask more questions and dig deeper into their responses presents itself. From this, you will learn a lot more about them, and they will begin to feel heard and that their thoughts matter to you. You will have plenty of time to talk about yourself as necessary, and set the tone for a healthy conversation. Naturally, the other person will ask some questions about you as well, where you will have the opportunity to share some thoughts and revert back to more questions, further engaging in a positive connection.
The Positive Effects of Mirroring
Have you ever wondered how you ended up with the friends you have? It’s more than likely that you share common interests with them or have similar opinions and thoughts. We naturally like people who are like us. With that said, one of the networking tips suggested for entrepreneurs is to learn mirroring and matching. Subtle cues in your voice, movements, and mannerisms send their own message to others. When you are able to mirror the mannerism and shifts in posture or tone of voice by the person you are speaking with, their brain will pick up on these signals and influence them to feel like they are talking to themselves. This does not mean that you jump every time they make a move. Instead, pay attention to the changes in their posture while maintaining eye contact, and naturally follow their lead throughout the conversation.
Posture, Presentation, and a Firm Handshake
Although we touched on mirroring and matching posture above, there is also the matter of posture and presentation that exists before a conversation even starts. It is a good idea to practice good posture when sitting, standing or walking. In conjunction with your practice, take stock of your clothing and its impact on how you present yourself. It’s well known that by carrying yourself with good posture, holding your head up and dressing well can improve your self-esteem and confidence level. By trying to improve these aspects of your life, the gain in confidence will aid you at times when you most need it. Following these suggestions, backed by practicing a firm handshake will set you up for success before you even get into a networking situation. When you enter the room, you will already be making a statement to those around you, which is further secured with your handshake during introductions.
Hopefully, you find these networking tips for entrepreneurs helpful. Remember to give yourself a chance to develop these skills and build confidence over time. No one is perfect, and everyone must start somewhere when learning to connect with others. We recommend reading “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, to build on what you’ve read here and continue developing the skills necessary to become a master at networking.