There are lots of opportunities to connect with new people and expand your professional network. Still, a lot of people rely on networking events to give out their business cards and jump into conversations rather than taking advantage of the less obvious opportunities.
A professional connection can occur in unlikely places such as standing in line for coffee, on an airplane, during a break or at a happy hour occasion.
•The first rule of connection and networking is visibility.
Volunteer to work on the board of local nonprofit bodies or attend charity fundraising occasions. Volunteer to present a guest lecture to improve your public speaking skills. Do not forget that you are a walking business card.
During your day, listen and look out for conversation starters. Look for any opportunity to be of service to others. If a stranger says that he is searching for a good cafeteria, come in, introduce yourself and then suggest some good places to eat. Try to search for things you share in common, particularly shared experiences, to start interesting conversations.
•Give a firm handshake
Your first impression is powerful, and a firm handshake portrays confidence. Always stand up when you shake somebody’s hand because it demonstrates respect for yourself as well as the other person. Before shaking people, make eye contact and smile.
•Find a connector
If you attend an event for the first time, ask someone who knows people or somebody in charge to introduce you to guests in their network. This introduction from an insider may be more effective.
•Discover the person’s interests and hobbies
You can say, “What activities do you love to do during your spare time?” Nobody likes to talk about their work all night so that the new acquaintance will value your genuine interest. You could also ask if they make money on blogs or play any sport. Surely, you may find something to share in common.
•Give a heartfelt compliment
Everyone loves a compliment. If someone wins an award or did something remarkable at work, compliment then on their business accomplishments. It is a safe conversation starter. Add that you like their laptop case, handbag, pin, or tie.
Read news for current affairs and if you’re interesting, people will automatically be attracted to you. During your business travels, grab a local paper at the hotel or airport. Familiarize yourself with the local news so you’ll have something to contribute to discussions. You can also share tips for people on topics like how to make money on blogs.
•Keep in touch
After meeting new connections, follow-up on them. Always exchange business cards and connect with them on LinkedIn after that. Send them an email to let them know you enjoyed meeting with them. When you keep in touch, relationships will grow naturally.