Great networkers are people who understand the principle of abundance - giving before they seek to receive. They also tend to have a well-crafted elevator pitch at the ready for when opportunity comes knocking. But what truly makes successful networkers great at connecting with people is not that they have studied the principles of networking so much as that people just like engaging with them. Yes - that's the number one characteristic of brilliant networkers: they are likeable.
What makes it easy for people to like you within the first few moments of meeting you? Here are a few tips to help you make a positive first impression:
- Initiate the conversation. Help people to want to engage with you by opening up the conversation. Prepare a few questions that make it easy for people to share information with you, such as, "What brought you here today?", "What do you do?" or "How long have you belonged to this forum?" Steer away from overly personal questions, but give people an opportunity to tell you about themselves.
- Share honestly about yourself. Often what people don't realise is that others are more likely to open up to you if you share a bit of information about yourself first. Sometimes this means making yourself a little vulnerable. The other key element is to be totally authentic. The minute you try to be someone you are not, people see through it immediately.
- Don't try to sell. Always focus on relationship first and business second. Remember that your key goals are to be liked and to be remembered, which is why personal branding focuses on who you are and not just what you do.
- Be realistic and honest about following up. Don't say "Great meeting you - I'll give you a call!" if you have no intention of taking it further.
- Think about how to follow up. If you do aim to connect (based on something of value you can give), follow up in a unique way that makes you stand out. For example, I will often send a copy of my book in a beautiful box with a personal note.
- Keep momentum. Stay focused on unique ways to add value to the lives of people you've met. For example, introduce them to people in your network, offer them a resource, or share a bit of your intellectual capital.
Once you've made a positive first impression that will ensure people like and remember you, it's much easier to build a mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationship that will become part of your business network.