Building relationships quickly is so important to your success when you are networking. Here are 5 things you can do to get off to a great start at your next networking event:
1. Be approachable. You are there to network and meet new people. The fastest way to put someone at ease is to give them a smile. A really genuine smile that engages your eyes. We know the difference between a fake smile, a polite smile, and a really genuine “I’m happy to meet you” smile. Make sure you are using the right one.
2. Dress appropriately. People will make assumptions about you in seven seconds of seeing you. If you look dishevelled, that makes an impression. If you looked well groomed, that makes an impression too. People will make assumptions about your education level, socioeconomic status, trustworthiness, sophistication, and so on based on how you dress. If you want respect, dress well.
3. Have a greeting ready. Trust starts to build or erode with the greeting and with your handshake. The way you say hello needs to be real and authentic. You can say, “I’m pleased to meet you” in a really genuine way, or you can say it in a way that definitely leaves room for doubt. When it isn’t authentic, that will flag to the person you are meeting, and building trust becomes more difficult because of the lack of sincerity.
4. Have a firm handshake. Your handshake says a lot about you. If you have a crushing grip, it conveys you can be territorial or have something to prove; a weak handshake, says that you lack backbone; and a handshake that’s equally as firm as the other person’s, shows confidence.
5. Ask a great question. Remember you are here to build relationships. You want to be able to get further than the average “What do you do?” Your question needs to be something that works with your personality and something that you are comfortable asking. “What do you love about your business” would be a great start.
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