Meeting new people and maintaining the relationships you build is a requirement in the business world. No matter what you are doing or what your business is all about, knowing loads of people who work in all kinds of fields can be useful in the long run. A business person has to focus on their professional network in order to expand their companies in the coming years. Other people who have the same (or more) knowledge in a field of your interest can end up being a precious resource for advice and a good friend. Perhaps, the people with whom you collaborate the most can turn into your investors or partners someday.

Building a strong professional network has plenty of advantages, and – even though many people believe they have what it takes to network properly – not everyone knows how to do it the professional way, without being overbearing or demanding. This short guide should teach you how to boost your networking skills so that you won’t lose any contact unless you truly want to. Yet keep in mind that becoming a successful networker takes a lot of time and effort, not to mention perseverance and leaving your comfort zone behind. To start this process, make sure that you are prepared and willing to try new things and engage in conversations you’ve never had before. Here’s what you should know:

Start by meeting people through the contacts you already have

The easiest method to expand your social network is through the people you already know. It is enough to get back in touch with someone who knows a lot of other people in various fields and ask for their contact details. Of course, you don’t want to force a conversation. You should have a strong reason why you are contacting these people in the first place. Introducing yourself is not enough to establish connections, but you can figure out some reasons for reaching out to them. It can be asking for a piece of advice or an invitation for collaboration. Use arguments that are in relation to what these people do and you have all the chances to establish a professional relationship with them.

Use social media if you’re not good with face-to-face conversations

Networking is not only for people who are good at interacting with others in real-life situations. If you are a better writer than speaker, you can always make use of social media to expand your professional network. Moreover, starting a conversation on a social media platform is much more convenient and easier than doing it in a room full of strangers. The best platform for having professional chats is LinkedIn. This platform is specifically purposed for creating a professional profile. You can talk about your current and previous job position; you can list your awards, certificates, how many languages you speak, what skills you have and more. If written communication is your best skill, leverage it by using social media.

Don’t be pushy or demanding

Networking is not about making people talking to you by being pushy. Starting conversations without a reason can lead to awkward situations. The first impression you leave behind after a conversation you have with someone will determine whether this person will talk to you in the future again or not. Being pushy won’t lead you anywhere and initiating a conversation by asking for a favor is not convenient for anyone. Networking may indeed help you with your career, but that doesn’t involve asking every person you meet for a favor right from the start. Instead, ask them for relevant information that could help you get where you want. You can only ask people for favors if your professional relationship is strong enough to do so. Otherwise, stick to being polite and asking for pieces of advice instead of being demanding.

Learn how to pitch

And no, it isn’t about baseball. Pitching your business or your purpose in under two minutes is very important when you participate in networking events. You will meet a lot of people, and you won’t have enough time to develop your story from beginning to end. Instead, you need to come up with a short story that is captivating enough to stir the interest of the person you are talking to. Pitching your story perfectly is a sure chance to set up another meeting with a person and a great manner to leave a great first impression.

Two minutes seems a hash time frame, but if you know exactly what to say during these two minutes, everything should go as planned. Take your time to create a catchy business pitch discourse and put yourself in the position of answering more questions and encouraging people who listen to you to ask for more information about yourself or your business. A stunning pitch is your key to success, so make sure not to lose this one opportunity.

Following up is more important than meeting the person

Staying in touch with the people you meet is the aspect that makes the professional relationship last. Even though it will be difficult to keep track of all the people you’ve met during an event, you need to do your best to tie the knot with everyone. If someone calls you after a conference or other networking events, but you can’t remember who the person is, don’t hesitate to use reverse phone lookup services. You need to know the context in which you met this person, and you can only remember by gathering some details about them. The company where they work or simply their name can ring a bell once you hear it. To avoid uncomfortable encounters, make a list of all the people you’ve met along with their contact details the night after the event took place. Sending thank-you messages after an event is a great conversation starter, too. Don’t miss your chance!