Some people network to collect business cards; I prefer to collect stories. That’s because behind every successful business leader is a story. Authentic networking gives you an opportunity to tell your own story and, more importantly, be enriched by listening to other people tell theirs.
Fresh out of college and new in my first job, I attended an IABC event where I witnessed the power of authentic networking firsthand. I remember feeling awkward about introducing myself to strangers, and didn’t quite know how to go about it. Then, one professional included me in her conversation group, and introduced me to a few other people. The rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, it’s been my experience that the most meaningful networking occurs when I am listening to people tell me their stories and making that personal connection. The people I’ve met through networking have become my friends, mentors, clients, business partners and employees. They have enriched me both professionally and personally. And for that, I will always be grateful to the person who showed me the power of authentic networking by welcoming me into her conversation.
Here are five tips you can use to build important relationships with the smart and talented people you meet at your next industry event:
If you are newer in your career, network to soak up the wisdom around you. And, make sure to ask a lot of questions along the way. If you are mid-way in your career, networking may be just the boost you need to overcome the challenges standing in your way. And, if you are further along in your career, embrace the power of authentic networking by asking someone, “What’s your story?”