Networking is becoming an increasingly useful and necessary part of business, but with so many people vying for connections at busy offices and hectic networking events, it can sometimes be difficult to make a lasting impression.
Corporate advisor, TED Talks mentor, and international business woman Soulaima Gourani reveals a few tips to help you stand out the next time you meet someone.
State your full name
As if remembering names isn’t difficult enough, think of how hard it is for someone to distinguish between the four different Kyles they met and the three different Sarahs. Even if your first name is pretty unique on it own, introducing yourself to people using your full name leaves a more lasting impression and gives people an extra shot at remembering it.
Explain what you do
Job titles only explain so much of what you do; and often, people with the same job title can have two very job descriptions depending on the company and industry they work in. Soulaima recommends, “Instead of introducing yourself with ‘I’m a _____ at _____’ and expecting that to be self-explanatory, give a brief explanation of what you do.” People will remember you better if they understand what it is you actually do. It also opens the door for them to ask follow-up questions about your and your career.
Be interested–not only interesting
Many people think the key to being memorable during a networking situation is to make yourself sound as interesting as possible by spouting off every personal accolade and experience you can think of about yourself. But being interested and engaged in what the other person has to say is equally–if not more–important. Soulaima advises, “Focus on the conversation you are having at that moment, and don’t think about what you will be doing next…People can tell if you’re not present and it will leave a bad impression.”
Tailor your questions
To learn more about others, and to help others learn more about you, Soulaima recommends asking questions along three different levels: professional, technical, and personal.
Ask Questions about the other person’s company and/or industry. For example, as questions like, “What is your industry’s biggest challenge right now?” and “What changes do you foresee happening within the next few years?”
“Ask questions that touch on the other person’s professional skills so you know what they can do, what they want, and what they dream about achieving during their professional career,” Gourani says. For example, “How did you get into ____?” or “What do you like most about your job?”
Ask questions that touch on the other person’s personal life “without getting into their private matters,” Soulaima says. Ask where they are from and, if they are from out of town, how do they like x location so far, she suggests. Or ask how the person got into their career/industry–they might have an interesting story behind it to tell.
Spin your newness
Don’t let your inexperience in a particular industry or newness in a certain position shut you out of meaningful conversations with others.“Everybody has a special competence from which other people can benefit. You just need to identify it and communicate it so that people can remember you,” Soulaima says. “If you are young without much experience, then make an effort to find out what it is that makes you unique. Mention your qualities easily and simply so that the individual you are talking to can quickly get an idea of who you are, what you can do, and your professional goals.”