Ten networking tips to help you make a great first impression

January 24, 2019

Having the right professional contacts can help you expand your business and open the door to new opportunities. One of the best ways to meet those contacts is by attending networking events. Whether you’re at an industry-specific conference or a general entrepreneur meetup, you’re sure to connect with people who can help you grow.

The trick to success is properly introducing yourself. You want to let the other person know what you and your business are all about, without coming across as self-promotional.

Follow this advice from 10 members of Forbes Communications Council if you want to make a great first impression at your next networking event.

1. Build genuine personal connections.

Networking events are a bit like being set up on a blind date, and similar rules apply. Don’t take over the conversation and talk about yourself and your business. People want to feel that you are genuinely interested in them. Ask questions to get to know the other person and understand what they do. As you build a personal connection, potential business opportunities often present themselves. – Hannah Taylor, Ironistic

2. Smile.

Not only does smiling make it easier for people to connect with you because you are more open and welcoming, it also helps them remember you — and your company. Show real interest in what the other person does and ask questions before talking about you. Your smile and authentic self will go a long way toward a positive first impression. – Melani Deyto, TextMarks

3. Listen when you join a conversation, then show you were listening.

Take a few minutes to listen to the conversation when joining a group of people. An effective way to make a good first impression is to join a conversation with a comment that shows you were listening to the current group of people. Acknowledge a key point to add to the conversation rather than refocusing on you and your work. Nothing will stop a conversation faster. – Kiersten Williams, Walk West

4. Be yourself and don’t try to sell.

I’ve found that the best approach for any networking event is to be myself and talk about my business in a casual, non-salesy way. When I discuss my business, I always try to share, not sell. I also do a bit of homework on which connections make sense for me to connect with so I am focusing my energy chatting with people who are relevant to my career and industry. – Lin Grosman, GoDataFeed.com.

5. Follow up with good follow-up questions

Be prepared with questions that help you learn about others, hold mutually interesting conversations and make it easy to share what you want to about yourself or your business when it’s appropriate.

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