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With networking, you dont always have to help people in a significant way (like finding them a job or helping them make a sale). In reality, people also appreciate little acts of kindness (like making them feel good about themselves, opening doors and paying for meals).
While these details may seem trivial to you, they are important factors on how people perceive you and your networking style. Pay attention to how you interact with others because you want to make a good impression. Over time, these acts of good behavior will be second nature to you (unless they already are).
Make people feel good about themselves
When talking with people, make sure to let them know that you are genuinely interested in the conversation. Give them cues that youre a good listener by having good eye contact, smiling and asking questions.
By showing a sign of interest, people will feel that you care and have a good impression of you. In return, most people should also show interest in what you have to say.
In addition, validate their feelings by trying to understand their situations. By doing so, people will feel comfortable talking with you and will perceive you as a good conversationalist.
Make sure to congratulate or compliment others when something positive happens to them. By going out of your way to do this, people will appreciate your thoughtfulness and will remember you.
When introducing people to others, make sure your introductions include nice comments about these people. By portraying these individuals in a positive manner, they will appreciate you and feel good about themselves.
While it seems like this is an obvious way to introduce people, many people dont act this way. Make sure to spend time getting to know people by showing an interest in what they have to say. When you introduce them to others, you will have some positive information to share.
Exercise good manners
Though having good manners usually goes without saying, some people need to be reminded in certain situations. Pay attention to how you interact with others in various circumstances.
When walking in and out of buildings, make sure to open doors for other people. People often forget to do this. Make this a regular habit. It will show others that you have good manners (even if they insist on opening doors for you instead).
When dining or having drinks with others, offer to pay the entire bill (especially if you invited the person). People will often insist on splitting, which is just fine. So long as you make the gesture, you are showing good manners.
If someone asks if would like coffee or water during meetings or even interviews, always accept. Even if you dont want anything to drink or if dont like coffee, its still important to take the drink because youre showing respect to the person who is being a good host.
When you meet people, try to find out important dates in their lives (such as birthdays). Make sure to immediately record this information in your calendar so you wont forget these dates.
When its someones birthday, send this person an e-mail, call them on the phone or mail a card. Whatever you decide to do, it will show that you were thinking about this person.
Most people wont expect you to remember their birthday. Doing so will often surprise them. You will stand out by making the effort to acknowledge people on their birthdays.
By remembering details like birthdays, youre showing that you genuinely care about others and take an interest in their lives. With networking, building relationships is everything.
Think about others
Other than remembering birthdays, you should always be thinking about ways to connect with others. Contact people when you come across something that may interest them.
Let your contacts know about important items such as events, articles or resources. Whatever you share, it shows that you were thinking about them.
An event on February 15 that may be worth sharing with your network is Opportunity Knocks: Restaurants, which is being put on by the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul University and Lexington College.
When you do share information, make sure it provide value and interest to the people you contact. Keep good notes about people so you can pass on appropriate information to the right people in your network.
By contacting people with this information, you will make yourself stand out in networking circles. It will go a long way and it will say a lot about your character.
Remember that people appreciate the little things in life. Dont feel pressured to always come up with something big. When interacting with others, just do what makes you comfortable and happy.
Jason Jacobsohn currently serves as the president of the DePaul Entrepreneurs Association (DEA) and sits on the board of the DePaul Business & Technology Alumni Network. He also operates his own business and networking resources Web site at Jacobsohn.com
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