Making Real Connections with Ferial
Hi! I’m so excited to announce the start of my monthly series, Ferial’s Corner! I’ve gone through challenges and successes just like you and know how important it is for us to share our experiences so that we can learn from each other. My intent is to start a conversation about what I’ve learned throughout my professional journey, and to hear your thoughts on how you’ve approached things in your career as well. Check back here for stories and information on what’s worked and what hasn’t as I continue to create a vision for the future and live the life of my dreams and ambitions.
We just wrapped up a very successful conference last month and one of the key objectives for the day was networking to make new connections, real connections. Networking is not about distributing as many business cards as possible—it’s about making real connections with people so that they remember you and want to stay in touch after the event.
You’re not going to make instant best-professional-friends with every person you meet, but there are a few things you can do to move beyond the networking basics, and make sure you’re remembered as more than just a business card. At your next event, try these tips to ensure that you are making REAL CONNECTIONS.
1. RELAX AND BE REAL
You’re interesting, and you’re likeable. You have a lot to say—just ask your friends and family. So instead of entering into conversations trying to find the perfect thing to say or worrying that you’re not interesting or witty enough, just pretend you’re at an event with your closest friends, and be yourself.
2. PAY ATTENTION AND SHOW INTEREST
Introduce yourself, make eye contact and pay close attention to what the other person is saying to find out if there is any common ground. Don't rush, and don't expect every conversation to be a profitable one. Building connections takes time and effort. And remember - it’s not all about you: People love talking about themselves. Show real interest in what they are saying. Repeat interesting facts, and ask questions to get the other person to open up.
3. NOTICE PEOPLE’S BODY LANGUAGE
We tend to ignore this very important element of scanning the room. When walking into a room, or during a networking event, pay close attention to how people are standing together in groups. If two people are standing together facing each other in close conversation, it can be very difficult to break in and introduce yourself. Same goes for the "triangle," a closed group of three people having a conversation. So look for people standing by themselves or a group in an open formation, because it's easier to slide in and start talking.
4. LEARN TO OFFER
A great way to make a lasting connection is to offer assistance if you can. Be genuine with your assistance. I’ve found when I offer a little advice or my knowledge on a specific subject matter, people are very appreciative. You don’t have to go overboard here, but if there are little ways you can help out, please do. People are more likely to stay in touch when they know you are a great resource for them.
5. DON’T CONNECT ON LINKEDIN IMMEDIATELY
Don't try to connect with people LinkedIn or on any other professional social networks until the end of the day or at the end of the conference. Getting a notification a few minutes after an introduction can be a turn-off and make you look too aggressive. And when you send a request to connect, do add a note to your invite referencing to the meeting you had with them earlier, and keep it short.
6. LASTLY, STAY IN TOUCH!
Following with someone you met is what will set you apart from everyone else they met. By following up, you solidify your relationship with that person. Following up also gives you a chance to ask a particular question, or even arrange a time to meet one-on-one.
It's best to follow up within 24 hours of meeting. Express your appreciation for their time and include details pertaining to the conversation you had. If you don’t need to meet, just send a note to let them know you would love to stay connected.
We would love to hear if you have any awesome networking secrets. Leave them in the comments!