Some people are natural networkers, others find networking difficult or intimidating and some get networking entirely wrong usually by selling too hard and showing little interest in the people they meet. So how can you make networking work for you?
- Choose your events and media carefully. What is your reason for attending or joining that particular network? Who will be there? How much opportunity will there be to make the connections you are looking for? Will the investment in time or money be worthwhile?
- Plan ahead. Before you attend an event set yourself some objectives. How many people do you want to meet? How many one to ones do you want to book? Who do you want to meet? What do you want to get out of that meeting?
- If you have your sights set on making a connection with a particular individual then do your research. Visit their website if they have one. Search for them on social media. Google them. What are they chatting about? What have they just published? What are they selling or launching? Try to find something you have in common that could be a good topic of conversation but don’t be too cheesy or sycophantic. You want to be able to show genuine interest. Think about how you could start the conversation, e.g. ‘I was fascinated to read…’; ‘I saw that you…’ ‘I understand that you are working on…’ If you are in a position to help in some way plan how you will offer that help in a way that is likely to be acceptable to you both. For example, ‘I would love to write a piece on your… in my next newsletter’, ‘Would you be willing to be a speaker at …?’ If you can’t immediately see how you can help ask them what help they are looking for or maybe you can use your social media connections to their advantage.
- Plan your own introduction. Try to stick to a one or two sentence ‘elevator pitch’. In other words it needs to be something that your ‘audience’ will understand and remember and, hopefully, be interested in. If you have a great Twitter profile that might be your introduction. Your pitch is something that is worth investing time and effort in perfecting. Ideally you want people to be able to differentiate you from your competitors and that will help people to remember you. Try practising your pitch on your friends or business associates.
- Don’t hog the conversation. A good networker will show genuine interest in your introduction and follow up with some questions. The danger is that the conversation ends up being all about you so be on your guard for this. When you spot it try saying something like, ‘That’s enough about me, what about you? What do you do? Or use the research you prepared earlier.
- Don’t spend too long with any one person or group. If you would like to develop the conversation ask for a one to one appointment or for permission to ring them. Exchange business cards and then make sure you follow up as agreed. If you know other people at the event you could ask the person you have been talking to if you could introduce them to someone else. On the other hand you could ask your new connection to introduce you to someone they know. If there is catering or drinks involved you can suggest that you both find something to eat or drink.
- It isn’t always easy to break into a conversation and to meet the people you have set your sights on. You can try hovering on the edge of the group, if they are good networkers they will soon invite you to join in the conversation. Alternatively ask if you can join them. Don’t be afraid to ask the organisers if they can introduce you to someone. Use the people you know already to make introductions for you but don’t spend all your time with people who are already in your network. By all means catch up, ‘Lovely to see you again, how did you get on with that… that you were working on?’ and then move on either together or on your own.
For more networking tips read: https://thetrainingpack.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/12-top-tips-for-networking-success/