I was first introduced to a networking event when I was doing my master in International Public Relations from Cardiff University. I was 23 years old, and as a part of our practical curriculum, we were taken to London to attend a PR networking event. I was lost, not confident at all and scared to an extent. So many questions came to my mind, but I was worried I’d sound dumb or it would be outright wrong to ask.
It took me years of attending online and offline networking events thereafter, to eventually become comfortable in that setting. Not everyone has the knack of randomly starting a conversation and yet making it sound as if it was organically going in that direction. Networking is an art that some are born with while others perfect it over time.
On that note, let’s have a look at some of the key characteristics every entrepreneur who aspires to be great at networking needs to have:
Good Listener: This is one of the most important attributes anyone wanting to be good at networking absolutely needs to have. One has to be a patient listener, understand the requirements and needs of the person they are speaking to, and cater to them. You will only be able to gain people’s trust if you listen to them intently and truly absorb what they are saying. Listening and learning are the keywords to keep in mind while networking.
Positive Attitude: Having a positive attitude, along with an open mind, is always a boon in any given scenario, and all the more when you are out at a networking event. Its human nature to be attracted towards positive people, and positivity in your words and actions always lead to a great outcome.
Collaborative: An important aspect of networking is mutual benefit. Do not just go in thinking you will come out winning a pitch for yourself or an investor or referrals. Go with an open mind to be able to help others while getting help for yourself. Nobody likes to network with people who only think about themselves or are not open to collaborating.
Sincere: Authenticity and sincerity are transparent. You can act interested, but even if you are not, it will be reflected in your mannerisms, which can really put people off. Some of the best advice I got when I started attending networking events were to be sincere and make sure I follow up.
Trustworthy: This is pretty simple! You could be extremely talented and be one of the best at your job, but if people don’t trust they would not want to work or collaborate with you. In the networking universe, you need to trust people you are going to refer to others and vice-versa, hence this makes for a vital quality that one needs to have.
Approachable: Just like in daily life, you would not want to go to a person at work or in a social setting if they don’t look approachable, the same rules apply when networking at an event. Be pleasant, nice to speak to, not come across as rude or arrogant, are some of the basic etiquettes one must follow when it comes to entrepreneurial networking.