By: Chad Cohen
The LinkedIn invite is the business handshake of our generation. But it's also a bit like Business Speed Dating and the outlet for millions of spammers, trollers and others looking for a shortcut to business success. While social media has made it easier for us to connect like never before, there is still something to be said about being more human when we network. Because no matter how much you tweet, blog and update, nothing in business is as powerful as actual face time with prospective business partners and customers. From Vegas to Hong Kong, Atlanta to Mexico City, here are my five favorite tips for in-person networking:
- Speak on Panels - Let's face it, walking up to a complete stranger can sometimes be harder than speaking to a room full of them. The great advantage of being a thought leader in your industry, is that everyone at the event gets to know you and usually those with the most needs for your services will want to meet you following your talk. Focus on educating your audience and communicating your expertise, because no one wants to sit through a sales pitch.
- Show Value - People are more likely to connect with you if they think there's something advantageous to them in making a connection with you. It's the classic case of "what's in it for me." Therefore, build relationships first with new connections rather than straight out asking for new business or a new job right away.
- Make Introductions - I love introducing people. If you introduce two people and they hit it off, they will always be grateful to you. And people you have introduced to someone else are more likely to return the favor.
- Be a Good Listener - Listen hard. Rather than talking only about yourself, spend quality time listening to what others have to say and what they are looking for. The more you listen, the more you will learn and the more helpful you can be to the person you are networking with.
- Share Your Passion - Win people over with your enthusiasm for what you do. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you work where you do. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious and can get other people to share their passions while creating memorable two-way conversation.