Five ways to improve your networking skills

Striking a rapport and building personal connections with people is incredibly important when it comes to developing good working relationships. In the modern world, these interactions don’t have to be face-to-face, either – a telephone call or Skype conversation can be just as important, particularly if you’re liaising with overseas colleagues or clients while chasing international expansion.

With that in mind, here are 5 ways you can improve your networking skills in 2019:

Understand your target audience

When you set up a UK company, you should have a good idea about your target audience. Networking works in much the same way. Learn about the communities you’re meeting with through online research or simply asking questions.

Don’t be afraid to work the room

If you’re taking part in a networking event, take the opportunity to mingle. Try to develop more than one greeting, and push yourself to interact with as many people as possible. Encourage conversation, and engage with others in a warm and friendly manner.

Find some common ground

Be inclusive and try to understand how making connections can be mutually beneficial for all involved parties. Finding common ground and synergy can work wonders – even with competing businesses.

Always follow up

After making a connection with a potential client, remember to follow up on the initial conversation. Arrange a working lunch or coffee, get in touch via the phone or simply send an email highlighting your commitment to creating a beneficial working relationship. Remember, all relationships take commitment and effort – some work, some don’t, but you’ll never know until you take the initiative to follow up on your initial meeting.

Ask how you can help

In retail, this is a concept as old as time – but it can be applied to networking, too. Don’t wade in with both feet first giving it the hard sell. Instead, enquire as to how you can help serve the needs of your potential clients. When people get the impression that you’re offering your services with the right motives and for the right reasons, it becomes easier for a relationship to grow naturally.

With a bit of practice, networking will begin to feel like a natural extension of every working interaction you have. Don’t be apprehensive; you’ve got nothing to lose, and the next attempt at networking could yield a great deal or contract.

Want to practice the above at an event with UK business professionals? Sign up to our newsletter and tick the box that you want to receive invitations to our events to get plenty of opportunities to grow your network with good people!

How to become a successful networker

The value of networking is plain to see. It’s much easier to become successful yourself if you surround yourself with successful people.

However, the benefits of networking are easily wasted as people seek out relationships with purely selfish motives. Below are 3 tips on how to grow your network with mutually beneficial relationships.

Change your mindset

The real aim of networking is to offer help and provide value to other people. It’s easier to build lasting relationships when you help others accomplish their goals, rather than just informing them about yours. Of course, it would be great if they could put in a good word here and there and help you achieve your goals, but asking for favours should only become an option after you have provided something of value to them.

Be discerning with your time

Every now and again, most of us will feel a prang of motivation and go on a networking binge. We set up new social networking accounts, email everyone we can think of and seek out new contacts at events. It’s fine to act on this networking inspiration, but trying to be everywhere at once will result in you being spread far too thin, never-mind also wearing you out. By taking on too much, you’re not going to be able to provide people with the attention they deserve. If you’re at a networking event and constantly on your phone checking LinkedIn, then you’re probably not focused on anyone.

Instead of trying to be everything for everyone, focus on being more things and of greater value to fewer people. Remember that you don’t need to have a relationship with everybody, you just need to have a relationship with the right people. When it comes to the net-worth of your network, certainly quality is more important than quality.

Connect with your current network

We usually think of networking as connecting with new people, but reigniting and strengthening relationships with existing contacts can be just as productive. Look through your contacts and think about the people you already have a relationship with. You already know their skill sets, the problems they face, you may even know the names of their children! Think about the value you could provide to them and the benefits they could provide for you. Having an existing relationship means you’re already one step ahead.

Don’t think your network in the UK is big enough? We have spent the past 20 years building a network of businesses and professionals supporting foreign businesses in the UK and are happy to make you part of the community. Sign up to our newsletter and tick the box that you want to receive invitations to our events to get opportunities to work on those newly acquired networking skills and grow your network with friendly and helpful people.