When you hear the word “networking” do you visualise a room full of strangers being greeted with canapés and wine?
That maybe your visual take, but let me enlighten you on the underlying objective of Networking.
Wikipedia has defined networking in the following terms:
‘Networking is a socioeconomic business activity by which businesspeople and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures.’
Let’s look at the fundamental skills in networking that prove results. Here are 10 valuable tips that you can pack into your networking bag of tricks.
- Set a goal to meet 5 people.
- Do your homework. If you have access to the attendee list (people and/or companies), it’s a great opportunity to identify your ‘meet list’. If the event has a dedicated hashtag, do a quick search of the hashtag before you go to see who else is attending and discussing the event.
- Don’t stick with your pals. This is important! Don’t create ‘clicks’ as it’s a barrier to networking!
- Have a list of go-to questions to open a conversation eg “What company do you work for?“. If you have done your homework ( pt 2 ) you can skip this question and go straight to specifics – “What’s it like to work for x company?”
- Practise a memory technique to help you remember names. Say their name back and match them with a famous person with the same name! (In your mind not out loud!)
- Be positive & be genuine.
- Be aware of body language (yours and theirs). Use eye contact, smile and face your body towards them to show you are engaged in the conversation.
- Loop another person into the conversation. This is a great opportunity for 2 reasons: (1 ) when the conversation is reaching the end and before it goes stale, introducing another person into the conversation eventually will allow you to leave politely; (2) introducing another person that would mutually benefit the person you are speaking with helps them, and positions you as a useful and generous networker!
- Concentrate on quality over quantity. Don’t go on a business card hunt! Walk in with the aim of connecting and gaining knowledge with all of the above in mind.
- Keep the connections going. inkedIn and email are perfect to connect and follow up with thanks and/or an invite to discuss opportunities.
Now that you have the top 10 networking tips, you can walk in the next networking event with confidence and purpose!