Savvy networkers can improve their networking through soft skills. Being aware and sensitive to others, displaying etiquette and showing gratitude are just a few ways. Online resources define gratitude as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Research and studies have shown that expressing gratitude improves health, increases optimism and reduces stress. It is only right that gratitude be incorporated into business practices including networking.
Listed below are basic skills for building and strengthening your gratitude quotient.
Before the Event
Before you register or RSVP for a networking event, make a list of people, companies or connections you would like to make. Discern the best ways of approaching these individuals and companies. Sharpen your language and communication skills and do extra research if necessary. Be prepared with plenty of business cards or marketing material to reinforce your brand and message. Visualize a positive outcome for meeting these potential customers, clients or colleagues. Be grateful for the opportunity to attend the event and further your networking objectives and goals.
At the Event
Arrive early to the event or function with a strong networking focus. Polish your soft skills and be prepared to make introductions or properly introduce yourself. Deliver an excellent 30 second speech or elevator pitch. Be a good listener and ask engaging questions. Show an interest in others and meet as many people as possible. Re-connect with individuals during the event and follow up with new connections before leaving the function. Verbally express thanks and appreciation for spending time conversing and connecting.
After the Event
Collect and prioritize business and social contacts made at the event. Respond and follow up in a professional and timely manner. Use different methods of connecting and building relationships via phone, social media, email or correspondence. Communicate thoughtful and genuine messages for establishing quality and meaningful relationships. Make it a point to personally and professionally connect with counterparts and open the door for further opportunities.
A Few Weeks After the Event
Continue to stay connected and add value to the relationships. Reach out to your counterparts but do not sell or promote yourself, your business or your agenda. Use this occasion, as an opportunity to show gratitude while learning more about your counterparts. Find strategic ways of assisting, supporting and developing. Offer to meet up for a coffee or one-on-one, or schedule a conference or video call to touch base.
Chi Chi Okezie is owner/producer of SIMPLEnetworking, LLC in Atlanta, GA. Learn tips, tactics and techniques from this Champion Networker! Visit the SN Official Website: http://www.snseminars.com to read excerpts of her books, listen to the latest radio podcasts and visit her blog!
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