3 Steps to Becoming a Networking Ninja Arielle | March 2nd, 2016
Ninjas are agile, fast, and efficient. Business networking is typically the exact opposite. It’s often slow, confused, and discombobulated. Yet, while many people avoid it, networking is one of the most important tools in a business owner’s toolkit. When we network, we increase our knowledge and opportunities, and we also amplify the messages we spread about our companies. This is why networking events or conferences are so popular in the business world- especially for startups and small business.
People often avoid networking because of social anxiety, lack of knowledge, inexperience, or doubt that networking can actually be useful. If this describes you – you are not alone. But experienced business owners and marketing/PR experts all agree that such doubts and fears are irrational. People simply lack the necessary skills to feel more comfortable in a networking situation. Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations says:
Small business owners need to do more networking to make more contacts, not only for possible referrals, but as resources and even as friends you can turn to when you have a question or problem related to your business.
Since networking is not exclusive to specifically labeled events and conferences, this means that any opportunity you meet someone is a networking opportunity! Now, this doesn’t mean that every social event is an opportunity to plug your business or work out a deal. It simply means that each of us has many opportunities to connect with someone who could help us in the future. To help ease small business owners and entrepreneurs into the world of networking, here are three basic tips to becoming a networking ninja.
1. Make your first impression count- in a good way.
Making a good first impression is one of the most critical parts of networking. The first impression should be smooth and subtle, much like a ninja entrance. Through extensive studies such as the ones done by Princeton psychologists Alexander Todorov and Janine Willis on first impressions, we now know that it only takes people a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger – based completely on their appearance. The research also found that generally, longer interaction or exposure didn’t alter the initial impression in any way.
The bottom line: look presentable. Make sure that you are appropriately dressed for the venue and/or event (whether it’s black tie, jeans, or pajamas). Dressing out of place causes people to believe that you are unable to pay attention to detail, and can make others feel uncomfortable by feeling out of place. In an article for The Muse, career strategist Jenny Foss talks about a time when overdressed candidates made the rest of the company feel out of place when hiring to fill a position: