Your personal brand is hugely important. Here are the best ways to win friends and influence people at networking events.
Typically, the end of the year is a busy time in the SME calendar with lots of networking events, and award shows to attend.
So, as a business owner involved in showcasing your company at an event – or as an interested networker, attending an event for business reasons – what’s the best approach to take?
The man who wrote the book (literally) on how to network at events was called Dale Carnegie. In 1936, he published ‘How to Win Friends and Influence people’. It remains the most important manual of its kind today. Below is a digest of the book with tips on how to meet new people and win them over.
Six ways to win friends and influence people
This is such a simple, basic rule, yet people just don’t think about it. First impressions are vital. If you are walking around an event with a serious scowl, trying to network as hard as you can, you are putting people off. A broad smile and a warm hello will open more ‘doors’ than anything else at networking events.
2: Ask a question
Joining a group already in conversation can be tricky. Try and get the gist of the conversation and when you feel there is a lag in the discussion, ask a question relating to it. A question, in this situation, is much better than an opinion.
People love to talk about themselves. If you can get people to talk and if you can listen with a sincere expression, you are winning their trust and making a new friend.
4: Business cards
Always have them on you. Give them to the people you talk to. They still matter, even in this digital age.
5: Say the person’s name
People like to hear their name. As Carnegie wrote, a person’s name is the sweetest sound to that person in a busy networking situation. Address people by their name and watch them respond positively.
6: Be yourself
The most important piece of advice to take on board is ‘be yourself’. Many introverted professionals think they have to act like an extrovert in networking situations. You don’t. You may have to be a tad more confident than usual, but it’s okay to appear a little awkward. Just don’t apologise for it. Be yourself and be true to yourself. This makes you as comfortable as possible and it will make others around you ‘feed off’ that energy.