When it comes to networking secrets, many young professionals make the mistake of thinking they can simply lean into the power of their personalities. The fact, though, is that regardless of how charismatic or magnetic you may be, there are still many networking lessons to learn. These lessons are usually the most practical and useful when they’re coming from long-time sales and marketing professionals who have actually put them to use. That’s what this article is about: Practical advice for anyone involved in or new to in-person networking.
Here are 5 networking secrets that you need to know.
The first networking secret has to do with the way you dress. It’s important to remember that first impressions matter, and the way you dress is often one of the first things people notice about you. This doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank on designer clothes or go overboard with your wardrobe. But, it does mean that you should take the time to put together an outfit that is professional and presentable. The key is not to necessarily look chic or to standout (although if that's what you're comfortable with, feel free), but to look clean, organized, and well put-together. When in-person networking, people like to feel like they are talking to a professional that has a good handle on themselves and their work - and, partly, that means controlling your appearance.
Here are some tips on how to dress professionally:
Another part of looking and being professional is having a quick an easy way to connect with others. In the past, this meant a paper business card. Today, though, more and more professionals are switching to digital business cards. Having a digital business card shows people your serious - it shows people you know the importance of being able to quickly and easily exchange contact info and to connect in a professional way.
The second how to network secret is all about your body language. Again, first impressions matter and the way you carry yourself says a lot about who you are as a person. When you’re networking, be sure to stand up straight, make eye contact, and smile. If you can, try to keep your hands relaxed at your sides or in your lap. And, avoid fidgeting or tapping your foot - this usually comes across as nervous energy and it’s not very professional.
The best way to control your body language is to be aware of it. Pay attention to the way you’re standing, sitting, or moving and make adjustments as needed. The more aware you are of your body language, the easier it will be to control it.
The third networking secret has to do with conversation starters. If you want to be good at networking, you have to love networking. And that means being good at starting conversations. And, the best way to start a conversation is to have a good conversation starter.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you have a good conversation starter:
The fourth in-person networking secret is all about being an active listener. When you are networking, it ’s important to really listen to what the other person is saying. This means making eye contact, nodding your head, and giving verbal cues that you’re interested in the conversation. If you can, try to repeat back what the other person has said or ask clarifying questions. This will show that you were paying attention and that you’re interested in what they have to say.
The best way to be an active listener is to focus on the conversation and try not to let your mind wander. If you find yourself thinking about other things, make a conscious effort to bring your focus back to the conversation.
The fifth and final networking secret is all about follow up. Once you’ve networking with someone, it’s important to follow up with them. The best way to do this is to send a quick email or connect with them on social media. This will help keep you top of mind and make it more likely that they’ll think of you when they have a job opening or networking opportunity.
The best way to follow up is to be timely and personalized. If you can, send a quick email within 24 hours of networking with someone. And, be sure to personalize each email so it’s not just a generic form letter. The more personal you can make it, the better.
Professional follow-up is another area where Popl can help. If you use a Popl digital business card to connect with potential partner, client, or collaborator, the Popl app will provide insights and remind you both to continue the conversation. Remember, in-person networking is not just about the quantity of your connections, it's about creating genuine value.
In-person networking can be a great way to meet new people, expand your professional network, and find job opportunities. But it’s not always easy. These five networking secrets will help you make the most of your in-person networking opportunities.
Do you have any networking secrets to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments! And, if you’re looking for more networking tips, be sure to check out our blog post on how to network or, if you're mainly networking online, read more about the Dos and Don'ts of online networking.