Networking and building relationships are skills you need to develop early on to advance your career and business. They are core to growth and success in the current digital world
Network and surround yourself with a community of people you share common interests. Don’t limit yourself to work-only networks, you should strive to connect with people outside your circle to expand your reach.
Here are 9 proven tips on identifying common interests and using them to your advantage in business and personal life.
1: Active Listening
Active listening entails paying close attention to what your friends, colleagues, business partners say. While at it, focus on identifying cues about what they love doing during their free time, goals, passion, and personal interests.
For example, if they say they enjoy playing board games, hiking, or listening to music, ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share more about themselves.
Knowing more about a person's hobby will give you a glimpse into their personal life, values, and common interests. Use the information to determine whether they should be part of your network.
2: Attend Networking Events
Remote working is the norm nowadays. Working from home can limit your networking opportunities.
One sure way of jumping this hurdle is by searching for networking events like conferences relevant to your niche and adjusting your schedule to attend them during your free time.
These events are perfect for connecting with people who share the same hobbies and common interests as you. Once you identify a potential client or business associate, share your details using your digital business card.
Follow up with them offline and online by sending a follow-up message or calling. The beauty of using a digital business card for networking is that it allows you to share more stuff about yourself, like your academic achievements, past projects, work experience, services, and products you offer.
The point is that attending networking events is an excellent way of meeting new people and making friends who align with your goals, values, and principles.
3: Use Social Media
61.4% of the global population is active on one or more social media platforms. These platforms are part of our lives and enhance online marketing and networking.
Image source: Smart Insights
Joining social media platforms and populating your profile with personal and professional information will connect you with people with the same interests and hobbies.
People often share their hobbies, interests, and projects on these platforms. Search, follow, and add new friends to build a community of people who may be interested in what you do. Speak about what you do by posting more often and responding to comments to spur engagement.
For example, if you run a landscaping and gardening company, post videos and text-based posts about gardening to attract potential customers and business owners in that niche. Give them valuable tips on gardening and landscape to show your expertise.
4: Participate in Team Building Activities
Earlier, we mentioned the need to attend conferences to build a community of people interested in what you do and who have the same hobbies.
Go further and find team-building activities happening in your area over the weekend and attend. These activities are perfect for bringing together people with common hobbies.
If you enjoy playing board games like chess and scramble, search for local events online, especially on social media platforms, and commit to attending.
Such fun activities are effective in not only forming cordial relationships but also improving personal well being and health.
5: Have Casual Conversations
Don't be too rigid; be open-minded and social to create a friendly space for people to interact with you freely.
One sure way of becoming more friendly, especially when interacting with employees and new clients, is by having casual conversations.
These conversations are not strictly business-related. You can discuss your hobbies, interest in industries like finance, governance, music, family, local service providers, and fun activities you love doing for leisure and community.
Such engagements will help you discover shared interests, movies, and hobbies. Use them as a launching pad for deeper conversations about your industry, profession, and business without sounding too official.
6: Be Genuine and Authentic
When discussing common interests like food, life, sports, or anything, being genuine and authentic is super important. Everyone appreciates sincerity, it helps build trust, confidence, and rapport.
Using the same example of gardening, your answers to sensitive questions like the impact of a certain gardening technique on the environment and the responsibility of brands to protect the environment should be genuine.
You can also support your answers with videos and statistics to prove your point. In addition, when networking online with people from other countries or continents, use a language they understand.
The answers and ideas you present should be well-thought and structured to serve the purpose. Focus on showing you are knowledgeable and interested in creating a cordial working relationship with them.
7: Create Shared Experiences
Organize events or activities that align with the identified common hobbies and interests. For example, if you realize that the new clients love sports like golf, you can organize a gift outing to deepen your relationship with them.
Use online platforms like Facebook to encourage others in your community to attend the event. As you play, speak about topics that matter to them and use friendly and professional language to encourage them to speak freely.
Spice up the conversations with a sense of honor, but your words should not be too off. Guide the interaction in the right direction and maintain professionalism.
8: Utilize Common Ground in Negotiations
Knowing a potential client or business associate's common interests and hobbies will be beneficial during product or service pricing negotiations.
Use the information to create a conducive environment for negotiating and discussing the terms and conditions. Use your business acumen to make the process fun and all-inclusive.
9: Collaborate on Projects
Pursue and work on strengthening the new relationships by collaborating on projects with their team. While at it, share knowledge and answer questions genuinely to encourage them to share their expertise with your team.
Applying the above tips will enhance your business networking efforts and position your brand for success.
Remember, the goal of business networking is not just to identify common interests and hobbies but also to leverage them to build stronger, more meaningful relationships. Contact the new clients regularly to know how they're doing and keep them interested in what you do.
Create a digital business card today to seamlessly share your contact details and business information. The card's sleek design and QR code scanning process will pique their interest and encourage them to reach out.
Trust me, you will also be more memorable than people who use paper business cards. Contact us today for more details.