Building your network starts with building rapport. Here are some tips for starting to establish trust and respect with individuals you've just met.
1. Research people before you meet them. Let them know you did! It’s flattering and then you’ll be able to ask lots of questions around their life and work without it being awkward. This will give you lots of fodder for conversation and they will be appreciative that you took time to understand them and their world.
2. If you meet someone at an event, take a moment to find them to say goodbye. That extra touch will show that you truly valued the conversation and they will be honored by that. It also gives you a second interaction with that person so they’ll more likely remember you.
3. Be completely engaged and invested in the conversation you chose to be in. Use your eyes and body language to say you are present to the conversation. If you started it, see it through and finish it well. Lean in, repeat what they said for clarity to make sure you understood what they said.
4. In conversation, be careful on the affirming. “uh huh, yeah, that’s awesome” this makes you appear eager to jump in with your own thing to say, even if you don't have anything to contribute and can start making the other person feel rushed. Give people space for their thoughts and keep your affirming to a minimum.
5. Practice your handshake. Bad handshakes leave an unfavorable impression.
6. Talk with passion! If you’re going to share about yourself, share what you are passionate about. People connect and are energized by passion. So share your interests with others. Chances are, they would rather talk about your scuba diving (even if they don’t like the ocean) to hear your excited about it then falling asleep as you tell them where you're from and what you do in a monotone voice.
7. At a networking event, it’s much easier to strike up a conversation with an individual and not a group. Try to catch people as they’ve broken away from a group (to get coffee etc) or those who have yet to enter a group conversation. It’s difficult to build rapport in a group because you have to stick to general topics that everyone can appreciate and it’s too many people to try and connect deeply with.
That's all for now. Keep building!