20 Networking Tips For People Who Hate Networking

 By: Justine Clay
The foundation of a thriving business is building and maintaining a strong, dynamic network of trusted collaborators, supporters and advisors. Modern networking is built around starting conversations, forming genuine relationships and focusing on giving, rather than getting. In this post, I'll share 20 tips to help you network more effectively, AND have more fun as you build and maintain a thriving network.

Now I realize that networking is not something most of us get excited about. But I've come to realize that, like everything else, it's something of an art form and once you 'get' the new rules and find your tribe, it's actually really worthwhile and even fun (really!) Modern networking is build around starting conversations (that go both ways...imagine that!), forming authentic relationships and focusing on giving, rather than getting. The great thing about this type of networking is that you can be yourself, release any negative emotions around 'selling' and feel great when you connect with someone who has a genuine need for your services or knows someone else who does. This is not about short-term gain, but building your relationships and your reputation, little by little. It takes time, but the pay off it truly worth it.

These 20 tips will help you master the art of networking in no time:

1) Adopt an attitude of "what can I do for you?" rather than "what can you do for me?"
2) Have business cards (and use them judiciously)
3) Know your elevator pitch
4) Know your ideal client profile
5) Make eye contact
6) Be genuine
7) Bring your whole self to the event. If you're a mom, there's no need to hide that fact. (It's also not an excuse to talk about your kids all night, or whip out the photo album!) Don't be shy about sharing 'non-professional' things. You might find that the person you're speaking with also has a passion for skydiving
8) Be interesting
9) Be interested
10) Be gracious
11) No looking over a person's shoulder to see if someone more interesting arrived 12) If you see someone who's alone, invite him/her to join your conversation
13) Be succinct. Interactions should be short and sweet.
14) Don't monopolize someone (or let them monopolize you). I find that in either situation, simply saying "I don't want to hog you all night, it's been great meeting you" will do the trick.
15) Be OK with being uncomfortable. It's a rare person who can walk into a room full of strangers and be totally at ease.
16) Be kind to yourself. Sometimes it goes better than others and that's OK
17) Dress the part
18) Smile, Smile, Smile
19) Pay attention to your posture. Shoulders back, chin up and make sure nothing's crossed
20) Shake hands when you introduce yourself and again when you exit saying "it was nice meeting you" (sounds basic, but lots of people don't do it!)

So you're ready to come out from behind your computer and start meeting people, but how to find a networking event that's right for you? Happily, there are lots of organizations that have already gathered large lists of your ideal clients, so tap into those resources. And the best way to find out where your ideal clients congregate is to ask them! Here are a few questions you can ask:

- What professional associations do they belong to?
- What conferences do they attend?
- Where do they hang out? (private clubs etc.)
- What trade pubs, blogs and newsletters do they read?
- Who so they follow on social media?

Answering these questions will help you identify where your clients are hanging out - on-line and off. When you're armed with this valuable information, you can strategically choose the events you go to and enter with a clear plan of who you want to meet, what you'd like to share with them and what you'd like the outcome to be.

You're ready! Find an event, grab a pal, and start building your thriving network!
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