10 Networking Tips

Personal Networking – still relevant, still effective & still needs doing!

The massive rise in popularity of social media has shown that there are huge benefits in having strong and active networks. 

Networking face-to-face remains tremendously important in business success, but as we come to spend more and more time in front of screens rather than in front of each other, networking in the true interpersonal sense might be a dying art. 

Here are some basic tips for networking that will help you build relationships and strengthen your business.

1. Make networking a work discipline.  There is not much soft and fluffy about networking.  Networking is a business activity and should be approached in a planned and systematic way. It simply is not good enough and will not deliver effective results if you dabble and hope for the best.  Be systematic: establish priorities, measure results of activities and decide what works and what doesn’t, otherwise you are wasting your time.  

2. Remember always to carry your business cards.  These, like all your material, should be stand-alone and contain information about who you are, what you do and how to contact you and how to find out more about your organisation and what it provides.  If space allows include why what you do is of benefit and a photo to make it easier to bring you to mind.

3. Carry a lift statement about your business in your head; it should be short (easy to say and easy to remember), positive in the choice of language and contain the major USP or differentiating aspect of your business. For example – “We run a range of communications based training, primarily to help people get their messages across better in a media environment.”

4. Get out there!  You will not build a network by sitting in your office and making phone calls. You have to be present at receptions, conferences, trade fairs, networking meetings, courses, etc. If it helps you to overcome reluctance remind yourself that networking helps your business.  Obsession with the idea that “networking” is boring and filled with failure needs to be transformed into something positive: you have to go out and meet new people, who will be able to contribute one way or another to your life and your business. Think about the fact that good networks represent power and influence.

5. Remember to listen.  One of my greatest frustrations about networking events are those people who simply go to events to send information and are closed to receiving it.  Good networking should be two way, so be prepared to listen and listen well!

6. Be ready to network.  The best networking opportunities are often at unexpected times or places.

7. Plan ahead.  Have a few opening small-talk questions ready.  Examples: What brings you here? Where do you come from? What do you do? Follow up with questions, and stay on topic.  Seek out common interests or passions. This encourages the possibility of further conversation, and makes it easier to remember people subsequently.

8. Be proactive and engage.  Often people are grateful that they do not have to make the first move.   Come out of your comfort zone and help others come out of theirs.  Start by introducing yourself and find ways to break down barriers.  Offering an opinion and asking questions is a good way to do this.  For example, “I thought the presentation was very useful.  What did you think? Have you heard much of that before?”

9. Circulate.  Don’t find one person and cling.  Work the room and judge when to move on so you can talk to lots of people. Remember to close by handing over your card and making an arrangement about when you will be in contact again. If you do not arrange a contact, then phone or e-mail no later than the following week. In such a situation, offer something concrete – a meeting, lunch, or an offer. This makes it easier to phone, and easier for the other party to relate to the contact.

10. Work on presenting yourself well. Your body language signals something about your state of mind, your comfort, and your energy levels. Remember there is no second chance to make a first impression!  If you look confident and relaxed then you are confident and relaxed.  Perception is reality.  Remember people are attracted by winners and their attitudes.

Networking can be hugely enjoyable.  Get out there and do it – but make it a disciplined process to ensure success!

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