This article comes from Entrepreneur.
High level networkers succeed because they have particular skills. You can practice and develop these skills to make connecting with others easier and more enjoyable.
These five skills make connecting simple and natural.
Take the time to perfect your elevator pitch and always carry business cards, even when you’re just running errands. The more prepared you are, the easier and smoother networking will be.
Good listening skills can help you to make valuable connections, but this can be difficult, especially when you’re networking in busy, loud places. Work on being a good, active listener by maintaining eye contact, paying attention, and responding with insightful, relevant questions.
Learning to ask good questions takes time, but it’s a valuable skill for networking. I try to practice it regularly. It can actually be fun because everyone enjoys the conversation more. Use active listening skills to ask questions that build on what the other person is saying. This demonstrates you’re genuinely interested in their ideas. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your questions, and try to move past the standard questions that people probably hear regularly.
It’s all too tempting to talk about ourselves. However, if you reach out to connect with someone, you need to make the conversation about them. It’s fine to talk a bit about yourself, but then turn the conversation focus back to the other person – and definitely, don’t try to sell anything during your first conversation. Trust me, if they like you and are interested in what you have to offer, sales will take care of itself.
This is sometimes the most difficult skill to master. Think about ways you can offer value to others through your knowledge, skills, or even through your connections. Understanding the value you offer can help you establish mutually beneficial relationships.
Every successful entrepreneur once learned how to network. Few entrepreneurs are born knowing how to network. Good networking is a learned skill, and all entrepreneurs have made mistakes with their networking at some point. More important, though, is that they’ve learned from their mistakes, refined their techniques, and mastered the art of networking.
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