Networking is a great way of boosting your business — and can lead to useful contacts, referrals, leads and sales. If the people you meet like you, they are more likely to support your business goals. But a lot of people feel uncomfortable networking, or don’t have a successful strategy.
You can use psychological shortcuts to improve the effectiveness of your networking — and to make a positive impression in a short space of time. From remembering people’s names to getting them to refer business to you, psychology has some great lessons that can be applied to networking.
Here are fifteen psychological tips to help you make a positive impression and network more successfully, laid out in sections to cover all your networking needs.
In order to network effectively, you need to attract people to you. There are certain strategies that can force other people to pay attention to you, so you can strike up a conversation.
1. Red is a color that instantly attracts the human eye. If you walk into a packed networking room wearing red, you will instantly make an impression. Not only is red an especially striking color, but it also conveys power and confidence. If you don’t want to deck yourself out completely in something too garish, consider wearing a red tie.
2. For survival reasons, the human brain is especially sensitive to spotting food. If you want to draw attention to yourself subtly, stand by the networking nibbles. People will look that way whether they want to or not. Bringing food over to others is also an effective way of getting noticed — and liked.
It is important to remember people’s names when networking, and it is equally important that they remember yours. If you remember someone’s name, they’ll be flattered and impressed. Unfortunately, it is easy to mix up people’s names, or to forget them entirely, especially if you’re doing lots of networking.
3. The reason why people don’t remember names is that they are usually introduced before you have any information to connect their name with. When introducing yourself, say your name at least twice, the second time after you’ve been in conversation for a while, so they know more about you.
4. The brain remembers things better by making patterns of images and words. So when someone else introduces themselves and what they do, form a mental picture of their face, name and profession. For example, if you meet a writer, picture him with a pen in his hand, inscribed with his name. Psychologically, people love to hear their own name, so repeat it a few times during your conversation.
The best way to establish rapport with other people is by finding things that you have in common, be it experiences, interests or background.
5. Ask questions to find out more about the person you are talking with. If they grew up in the same area, went to the same school, or know some of the same people, center your chit-chat around that. If you’re really stuck for similarities, research shows that talking about music is the most common way for strangers to bond.
6. Even if you don’t have anything in common, people love being listened to, so just asking questions about them will make them like you more. After you have listened carefully, paraphrasing their statements can help to forge the connection. Use their own words to summarize what they have said, so they feel like you really understand them.
7. Another great rapport-builder is matching the other person’s tone of voice. When you repeat their words back, talk at the same speed, volume and pitch as they originally did, to make an instant connection.
Making yourself memorable
8. Psychologically, people tend to recall more from the beginning or end of an event than the middle. If there is someone at a networking meeting that you really want to make an impression on, arrange to talk to them first or last.
9. People remember emotional experiences particularly strongly, so if you make someone feel excited or happy, you will stand out positively in their mind. Approach others with a state of high energy and openness and they will be more likely to remember you. If you can make them laugh, that’s even better.
10. If you’re really passionate about your business, show it. People pick up on emotions from other people, and experience them vicariously. If you’re excited, they will be too.
Presenting yourself as an expert
11. If you can show that you are an authority or an expert, people will be more likely to want to do business with you. A professional-looking business card will make the right impression. Even if you’re self-employed, you should still have a logo or a brand.
12. When talking about your area of expertise, be masterful. Don’t qualify statements with “I think,” as this can seem flaky. Instead, speak with authority. Make clear concise statements and pause for effect. This will make people see you as confident and intelligent.
13. Social proof is a really powerful psychological tool. If you’ve appeared in the media, definitely drop it into the conversation. If you’ve got great testimonials, share them. Don’t come across as boastful, but to find ways to slot this information into your conversation naturally.
According to psychology, people play by certain rules when involved in social and business exchanges.
14. The rule of reciprocity means that if you give something first, you are likely to get something in return. People feel much more positively about others when they have first received something from that person — even if what is given is not that valuable. Give a small corporate gift to a new contact to introduce the rule. The added bonus of a branded product is that they’ll remember your brand, and others may see it too.
15. Studies show that people who have committed to doing something small for you will be more likely to do you bigger favors in future. Ask them for a small commitment, such as signing up for your newsletter, to start the ball rolling. This could lead to referrals and direct sales later on.