Networking is one of one key skills that can’t be taught.
An efficient networker is a person who has networked on many
different occasions and has incorporated the tips which I
will share below into their approach. Firstly before we get
into that let’s look at the definition of networking.
Networking in a nutshell is forming a group of associates
and partners and maintaining the relationship for the
benefit of both people. Networking is centred on asking
“how can I add value” rather than “what can this person give me”
Below are a few tips to help you on your way to building an
effective network :
Punctuality – make sure you are on time, you haven’t come to
party so the concept of fashionably late should go straight out
the window. At the beginning of network events it’s much
quieter and less structured so you have more flexibility with
regards to who you approach and connect with.
Confidence – as easy as this may sound, make sure you exude
confidence. People are more likely to remember the confident
individual and confidence is subconsciously linked to intelligence.
Sell yourself – there are 100 people in the room, what makes you
stand out from the rest? In an increasingly competitive
environment this question has become increasingly important
so make sure you have an opening line/way to enter a flowing
conversation naturally. For example if you have joined a conversation
about handling pressure within a particular sector relate to an
extracurricular activity you have participated in. E.g
taking the winning penalty for your local football team, or being
the group leader on a project which had a tight 2 week deadline.
The example would vary in relation to who you’re talking to.
Observe your surroundings (versatility) – this is key to effective
brand management. The way you talk to your mates will be different to
the way you speak to a Managing Director if a firm. Make sure you are
observant of who you will be networking with and naturally tailor
your delivery to take that into consideration
Be open minded – subconsciously we are going to feel most comfortable
speaking to people with similar backgrounds/cultures to ourselves.
Don’t let that be the limiting factor in your network. Be willing to
go out of your comfort zone to connect with people you probably
wouldn’t hang around with on a day to day basis, having a different
perspective can only be a good thing.
Quality over quantity – there is no point speaking to everyone at a
networking event if you don’t connect with them. It’s all good
collecting business cards but you will realise that the conversation
will start and end at the networking event. A more efficient approach
is identifying prior to the event areas or sectors in which you have
an interest in knowing more about and target two to three people who
you feel you will be able to connect with due to shared interests or
backgrounds. The relationship would be more genuine and the
individual will want to help more
Networking goals – before any event make sure you have answered the
- What do you want to gain from the connection?
- How would you know you have achieved it?
- How do you intend on making sure they remember you?
- Why that person?
Word of mouth – Ever heard the saying ‘charity begins at home’? Well
so does your network. Family and friends can provide the foundation
to an effective network so use their contacts as much as possible,
especially if you find it difficult starting a conversation at
Follow up – it’s all good collecting business cards and meeting new
people at the event, but these people you connect with will have
given out thousands of business cards before you, and will give out
many more after they met you. The follow up step is probably the most
important step. How do you get the person you have connected with to
remember you? Making sure you follow up the first meeting with an
email stating your name, where you met, a topic of discussion that
stood out and trying to organise a follow up meeting (only if you
feel you will benefit). Showing appreciation sometimes makes the
difference between choosing who you want to help so go that extra
E-networking – Do not underestimate the power of the Internet.
Sites like LinkedIn and twitter, if used properly can connect you
in ways you cannot imagine. This is always a preferred method for
the less confident networker as the initial conversation is not face
I have a presentation which I delivered to some of my colleagues on Networking so if you need any further info or would like a copy get in touch.