Developing new relationships is key to success in both personal and professional lives. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy thing to do!
If you’re like most people I know, you have probably spent some time thinking about your “elevator pitch” before heading out to a networking event.
Or worse, you have avoided networking because nothing you’ve come up with feels quite right.
I have some good news: it is okay to ditch the elevator pitch. For good.
People are often surprised to learn that you can actually customize your own networking strategy that focuses on your strengths, goals, and interests.
And networking events don’t have to be a place where you sell yourself. You’ll get much more value from your efforts if you focus instead on simply cultivating a broader range of relationships and being of service to those you meet along the way as often as you can.
Instead of focusing on your pitch, here are five alternative strategies that you can you can use to initiate and develop new relationships and make the most of your networking endeavors:
SET REASONABLE GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS.
You’re probably not going to attend a networking event and land your next job or three new clients. But consider other goals you can set for yourself. How many people can you talk to? How many can you help? Can you find someone in a specific industry or niche?
PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME.
What will you need to share about yourself to initiate the right kind of relationships? Take a few moments before every event and write down the type of people that you’d love to meet and what kind of relationships you’d love to start creating.
ASK WHAT PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR.
Don’t be afraid to ask folks about the kind of people they’d love to meet. If you’re not the perfect fit, you can still provide value and nurture a potential relationship by making suggestions or connecting them to people you know. This also gives you an opportunity to talk about what you’re working on and the type of people that you’d love to meet.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT EVENTS.
Not a suit-wearing kind of professional? Focus on events that are likely to attract the right people for you. Remember, these don’t always need to be literal networking events! Art openings, book clubs, even social gatherings can be a great place to develop personal and professional relationships and, as a bonus, you’ll already have mutual interests and friends to get the conversation going!
PLAY THE HOSTESS.
Feeling awkward at a networking event? I’ve been there! Consider how you would like guests to feel at your own event. Say hello to folks who enter and don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with someone who might be lingering on the outskirts of the crowd.
When it comes to building relationships to move your business and career forward, remember that you’ve got options. Finding the tactics that resonate with you and your personality means that you can skip the procrastinating and implement a strategy that will work for you AND the folks you meet along the way!