How to network like an expert (and make quality connections)

Whether you’re a business owner or an employee looking to make connections with substance, these tips will help you to make better connections when networking.

Choose common grounds

Be focused when you’re at an event. Don’t try to network with every person there. Identify the people who think like you and are interested in similar things as you are. Try to network with people who are also in the same age bracket – you may have more in common with them as well. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same industry; a complimentary industry could be quite beneficial as well.

Give and you’ll receive

This may sound a bit cliché, but the more you’re willing to give of your time and help others solve problems, the more you’ll show them who you are and why you could be a very valuable connection to have.

Give them a challenge

When you’re trying to connect with more senior businessmen and women, show interest by letting them know how inspirational or impressive you think their career path is then tell them what you’ve been trying to solve and ask what their view on the problem is. These people thrive on challenges and would more often than not welcome the chance to help you solve it. It’ll be a great conversation starter and they’ll enjoy discussing interesting challenges. You’ll immediately know if the person you’re hoping to connect with is interested in connecting with you and if they would be a valuable contact to have.

Make sure they remember you after your meeting

Not everyone you meet will remember you the next day, which is why it’s important that you do some sort of follow-up the next day or two days later. It shouldn’t be forced though. If you spoke about an interesting topic that left unanswered questions between you two, perhaps send them a link to an article that does have the answers, for example. This sort of interaction will give you the chance to not only help the person remember you better, it’ll also open the door to starting a more natural sort of working relationship so it doesn’t seem like you only want something from them.

Set time aside to network

Good business relationships don’t just happen overnight. You have to work at them like you would any other goal you have. If you see one of your connections has a new job or got a promotion, take the time to send them a note to say congratulations. They’ll appreciate the thought. Perhaps offer to take them out for a coffee to catch up – it’s a great way to catch up and ask about other connections that they could introduce you to.

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Don’t try to be someone you’re not

The best person you can be is yourself. Your potential connections will appreciate real people over pretentious ones. Also, you have to show real interest in your potential connections. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say and offer to help if you can. Networking is about making genuine, long-lasting connections that will be mutually beneficial.