Building Strong Professional Relationships: The 4 Steps to Effective Networking

August 28, 2023

pictured: four people at a networking eventDo networking events feel like a whirlwind where you just exchange business cards and brief hellos? It's a common scenario, especially if attendees don’t understand how to leverage the networking event. There’s a better way to participate in these events! It's all about building genuine, lasting relationships, and I want to help you get more out of them.

Networking with Purpose: Building Bridges, Not Just Contacts

You might be wondering, why bother? Isn't networking just about expanding your contacts list? Actually… no! The real power of networking lies not in the quantity of connections you gather, but in the quality of relationships you cultivate.

I'm going to guide you through a simple yet profound 4-step process that can transform your networking experience:

Prepare for Impact:

Before you even step into a networking event, here's a trick I've found to be remarkably effective – preparation. Take the time to research the attendees beforehand. Most events have an online registration portal that shows who has registered. Grab that list and get to know their backgrounds, roles, and the companies they represent.

Armed with this information, you're not just making random conversations; you're engaging intentionally. This groundwork can enhance the meaningfulness of your interactions and even help you identify people you genuinely want to connect with.

Quick tip: Identify who you want to make sure you meet so you can keep an eye out for them and connect.

Engage with Curiosity:

I believe in the value of curiosity in relationship-building. Being genuinely interested in others not only helps me establish connections but also fosters a positive and lasting impression. People can tell when if we’re just nodding along or if we’re genuinely curious.

True curiosity fosters engagement and leaves a lasting impression. Think about it: wouldn't you prefer talking to someone who's sincerely interested in what you have to say?

Find the Balance:

It's important to both listen to others and also share about ourselves. I strive to strike a balance. I avoid dominating the conversation with my too much of own experiences. No one likes a monologue!

I've found that sharing about myself becomes more meaningful when it's woven into the fabric of the conversation. If they talk about their job, share a relevant experience. If they mention a company, connect it to something you know. Statements like, “I have a friend that works at that same company. It sounds like a great place,” make it less about “you” or “me,” and more about “us” – the synergy that happens when two minds genuinely connect.

Follow Up

This is where a lot of people trip – they don’t follow-up. Building relationships doesn't end when the event concludes. This is still only the beginning! Sending that follow-up email, connecting on LinkedIn, or setting up a coffee meeting is a continuation of the relationship-building process. Don't let the momentum fade away. Nurture those connections like you would a newly planted seed – with care and attention.

Networking is about creating bridges, not just contacts.

The next time you step into a networking event, carry this approach with you. Invest in conversations, prioritize connections, and watch how the landscape of your professional relationships transforms.

This 4-step process is a deeper look at the networking framework that I developed, called: “You You Me You.”

To dive even deeper into the “You You Me You” framework and the art of cultivating meaningful connections, I invite you to explore my book: You, You, Me, You: The Art of Talking to People, Networking, and Building Relationships.

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