Be a Network King (or Queen)
"I don't really have a network"
"I'm no good at networking"
"I'm not able to sell myself"
"I just can't approach a stranger"
These are some of the things I hear when clients talk about networking. If you've recognised yourself saying these then I'm going to tell you that you are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. But it's ok. You are not alone in these assumptions and I'm here to help. In the graphic above I have thrown down the last three months of my own networking. It's been busy with over 50 conversations but every single one was interesting and valuable. Here are a few quick tips to help you get started.
ZING! BING! FLING! They are all active words…. and they all have 'ing' in them. Networking is a DOING word. It means you will have to be active and move. Move into the room. Move into the right circle. Move into the right mindset. Scroll through your phone contacts and pick three people that you can have a conversation with about your work then make those calls - that is networking!
Know thy self
If you are at an event and you're standing beside someone they will be likely to ask you "So what do you do?". It is a great idea to have a decent answer to this. Before you can tell them who you are, YOU need to know who you are. Firstly, don't exaggerate who you are; be your authentic self. It takes far too much energy to create a false persona and really it doesn't show respect to others. So simply be yourself. The easiest way to get this across to others is to give three lines:
My name is
Don’t try to be interesting, instead be interested. Show your interest in others by asking questions. Not personal ones, just take an interest in their view of the world e.g. "what did you think of that last speaker?" or "you seem to know a lot about
….. and then listen
Listening with attention is one of the greatest skills you can develop. People love to be heard and love to be valued. If you give them that feeling through the quality of your listening then they will remember you in all the right ways. You can practice listening every single day so there is no excuse not to get good at it.
Be a giver
If you are not prepared to help someone else then you are not prepared to network. The power of reciprocity in relation to influence is well documented in Robert Cialdini's books (I recommend them) and if you are not willing to give something then never expect to get anything.
It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice
Always, always, always be polite. Even if you didn't click with a person they will appreciate your good manners and they will definitely remember bad manners. So if you say you'll follow up, then follow up. If you say you'll connect them with someone else, then do it. If they have helped you in any way at all take the time to send a note of thanks to them. Make it personal and show them you mean it.
There are loads and loads of tips and tricks but these are just a taster menu. If you are interested in finding out more get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org