Networking is a critical skill required for developing your career or growing your business. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, “Skill is fine, and genius is splendid, but the right contacts are more valuable than either.” In this blog post we outline a set of tips that will help you immediately become a better, more confident networker. You can download the complete list as a pdf from our online resource library.
1. Make use of digital tools. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are powerful networking resources. Invest the time to make them work for you..
2. Review existing networks. It’s easy to overlook what’s already there. Consider how to re-connect with your network. Creating new opportunities from existing contacts is a great place to start.
3. Be proactive. It’s your responsibility to start the conversation. Don’t wait for others to come to you.
4. Start with a smile. And a handshake, it helps to put everyone at ease.
5. Arrive early. Because everyone is just arriving it’s usually quieter, people are just starting to talk to each other so it’s easier to find a conversation partner.
6. Start conversations. Networking is about building relationships so you just want to get the conversation started. It’s better to keep the conversation chatty and informal so that people enjoy the exchange. Share the talking so it’s not all one sided and ask open ended questions.
7. Be welcoming. If you see others interested in joining the conversation, welcome them in. If you know of 2 people at an event that should meet each other then be the person who introduces them.
8. Don’t try too hard. Sometimes you have an agenda, something specific you want to sell or find out. If someone asks about your company then be prepared with some interesting information. However, the good relationships develop over time and people tend to do business with people they like, so it’s important to build a rapport first.
9. Don’t get stuck. Move on from conversations that aren’t a good match. It’s better to exit politely and continue to network to find conversations with people who are a better fit.
10. Following up. Having invested the time to attend an event, meet people and start to build a relationship it’s a waste if you don’t maintain and nurture the relationship.
Like any skill, it takes practice to become a good networker. The more you do it, the better you’ll get, until it becomes second nature. Remember that networking isn’t about getting “quick wins”, but about building for the long term.
To access a range of useful resources for practical skills development, visit the Skillfluence On-line Resource Library.