I believe that preparation is one of the most critical success factors when it comes to networking, especially if you're trying to connect with people outside your current social circles.
"The more you know, the easier it’s for you to figure out how you can provide value. Make this your top priority and you'll win."
Unfortunately, far too many people underestimate it. Don’t be one of them.
 Your personal pitch – the first impression matters
I’m sure you’ve already heard people saying that it doesn’t matter how good your product/service is if you don’t know how to sell it. The same holds true for your personal presentation. Sometimes it’s simply not enough to hustle; sometimes you have to share your story with the world in a way that will make people pay attention to you.
The better the story is, the more opportunities it’ll unlock.
Keep it simple. Prepare a short pitch (1 – 2 minutes) that clearly describes your focus, accomplishments, and passion.
Tip 1: Practice makes perfect.
Tip 2: You may need a slightly different pitch for different occasions.
 Get rid of the fear and break ice like a pro
You’d be surprised how much information you can find about people on the internet (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs & websites and much more). Make a good use of it.
Some of us may feel a little uncomfortable when approaching strangers. Some people are shyer than others, but usually, the biggest (psychological) obstacle is that we don't know what to say. We ponder how to start a conversation with somebody we aren’t acquainted with. We fear the rejection. We don’t want to say anything wrong. It’s all natural. Fortunately, there is one simple trick how to overcome this fear – preparation.
If you put some work into it, I can guarantee you're going to find something you and the other person have in common (interests, mutual connections/friends, the field of expertise, etc.). Voilà, starting a high-quality conversation suddenly got much easier.
"Preparation will increase your confidence. It's that simple and yet so powerful."
 Be more efficient
Preparation can eventually save you a lot of time. First, be clear about with whom you'd like to connect, then formulate your strategy. A simple research will help you in the following ways:
Introduction – find out if you have a mutual connection or friend who can make a direct introduction. Help from a friend usually works the best.
Events (meet-ups, conferences, happy hours, and alike) – identify the events or happenings people you want to meet attend and focus your attention and energy there.
Other (non-profit and educational institutions, charities, etc.) – learn more about the causes/organizations people care about, get involved and have more opportunities to meet them in person (plus much more topics talk about with them).
. . .
To be continued…
Next time I’m going to discuss preparation for the events.
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