How can you use your first impression, conversation starters, and introduction to rock your next networking event and grow your network? It’s all about tapping into what intrigues people so you can be the most memorable person in the room.
As a human behavior investigator, I have spent the last ten years studying the science of people in my human behavior research lab. In my new book, CAPTIVATE, I present a completely different approach to interacting with people. I think our relationships can be hacked for good–one of the most important skills is making genuine connections.
Here are 5 strategies to help you rock networking events and build lasting relationships.
Be someone people want to connect with
Who would you rather talk to: the person standing in the corner of the room looking upset or the person with a warm smile talking animatedly with people?
Obviously, you’d want talk to the second person! The key to building new relationships is being the type of person that others want to connect with. To do that, you need to project positivity and have engaging conversations.
Before you arrive at networking events, catch up on your industry’s news, have a couple of fun stories in mind and get energized so you’re ready to engage with people.
Show people they are valued
Think about the last time someone showed genuine interest in something you’re passionate about or told you they admired you. It felt great didn’t it? You probably walked away from the conversation with a smile on your face and you looked forward to seeing that person again.
Instead of meeting people and trying to get them interested in you by talking about how awesome your life/career is, ask other people about themselves and express your admiration for what they’re doing.
Use these tactics to make people feel like you genuinely care about them:
- Maintain steady eye contact so they know you’re engaged with them.
- Ask follow-up questions to show that you care about what they’re saying.
- Mirror people’s emotions. If they’re excited, create stronger connection by sharing their excitement.
- Offer your help
“Can I help you?” Asking this question is one of the most effective ways to build long-lasting connections. If the person replies yes, you have an opportunity to add value to their lives. If they they reply no, you’ve boosted your reputation by focusing on other people and not yourself.
Helping people is easy. All you need to do is offer your knowledge and/or your time – a small price to pay to gain a new relationship, especially with successful people who often need the most help.
Diversify your network
Developing close relationships is essential for happiness. However, research shows you get more career-related value from acquaintances you see only occasionally.
Unlike your close friends and colleagues, your acquaintances interact with people you’ve never met which means they hear about opportunities no one else in your circle does. In fact, 83% of people who find their jobs through a current contact do so through people they see only occasionally, if at all.
So, those Facebook friends you haven’t spoken to in a while… it might be time to check in again. Who knows what valuable information they may have to offer?
Bridge the gaps in your network
You know those people who seem to know everyone? They’re great friends to have because if they’re unable to help someone, they know a list of people who can.
While you may not have an expansive contact list yet, you can add value to your network by connecting people who should know each other in two easy steps:
- Keep up-to-date with what the people in your network need and what their strengths are.
- Introduce people whose needs and strengths match up. For example, connect your acquaintance who wants to transition into a marketing career with a marketing professional that you know.
This is a winning strategy for everyone involved because the people you connect benefit from knowing each other and feel grateful towards you for bringing them together.