The Smart Guide to Effortless Networking
The Art of Networking
When searching for a new job or attempting to develop your career, we are often encouraged to network. Networking is a brilliant way to gain exposure and build credibility which is essential for your success. So why do some of us find it so difficult?
Networking is a word that can strike fear into the heart of many people. Others absolutely love networking, yet they don’t get any results for all their efforts. Did you know, there are tried and tested methods which can help you in becoming a masterful networker?
I’m sure we all have examples of times when it hasn’t been easy to pick up the phone or enter a crowded room to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. In the past, I have been guilty of standing in the corner quietly hoping someone would come to talk to me, whilst also wishing that nobody would notice me so I could quickly leave. That strategy wasn’t entirely successful!
As you know, networking is all about building relationships and trust - it is imperative to understand that when you need a sponsor, mentor, new job, or referee, it is already too late to begin the process of networking. It is time to start viewing every interaction as a chance to show yourself as your own personal brand and to think carefully about what that means to you.
One excellent networker makes it her goal to view every meeting as a potential connection not only for her and her clients but also for her colleagues and her friends. She constantly asks questions and thinks of people or ways to help solve problems. She then connects those people. Simple! She also highlighted that she nurtures these relationships as an ongoing priority.
To help you in your job search, we gathered information from some very successful networkers which we would like to share. Here is our quick guide:
Set an Intention
- Firstly and most importantly – forget about how uncomfortable you might feel – think about attending events with the intention of helping others
- Be choosy about which events you attend – do your research
- Decide how many people you will engage with – start with 3 people if you’re feeling nervous, rather than flitting around everyone in the room
- Have a meaningful conversation with those 3 people – after being introduced / introducing yourself, ask them how their business area is going – what challenges are they facing?
- Think carefully about how you present yourself – are you giving yourself the best chance to be memorable for the right reasons?
- Dress appropriately for the function / audience
- Maintain eye contact when speaking to people – do not let your gaze wander for a more ‘interesting prospect’
- Do not thrust your business card onto anyone – instead ask for theirs
- When the conversation ends, graciously move on
- Be endlessly curious about people and the challenges they may be facing in their current job / situation
- Get specific on one small area or problem, so as not to overwhelm yourself
- Notice trends or patterns in their responses and think how / who can help solve the problems
- Begin to store away / file information on who you have met and who can help them with a specific issue
- Follow up on any connections you made - if you gathered business cards (and you should!), drop your new connections a note or a quick phone call with an interesting article or news piece that is relevant to your discussion
- Be generous in introducing people who may be able to offer a solution or an alternative viewpoint –
- Put people in touch who might be able and willing to help
- It takes time to get to know people and how you can help them - keep showing up at events with the intention to help so that you become known as the ‘go to’ person within your business or social networks
Good luck in your networking efforts!
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