What comes to mind when you hear the word networking? For many, it can conjure up images of being thrown into a room, full of people you don’t know, and trying to sell your services and products to people that have little to no interest.
Knowing how to network, and understanding it, is invaluable and could change the way you approach it in the future.
We’re all networkers, whether we realise it not. It’s something we naturally do without thinking about it. We make conversation with people in the supermarket queue. We recommend trusted tradespeople to friends looking for help. And, don’t we all love it when you realise you share a mutual friend with someone you’ve just met.
Take a fresh, and effective, approach to networking by following our 5 top tips:
1. Realise the value of networking
If you only ever put effort into networking during a networking event, it’s likely that you’ve only ever seen minimal, if any, results.. Putting time and effort into networking every month, week, and day, and preparing for those networking events, can bring real value. Research people that you know are going to the event, look at who they’ve been talking to, and about, on social media. Give yourself something to talk about when you meet them face-to-face.
2. Build your own personal brand
As well as the brand of your business, it’s important that people get to know your own personal brand and it’s your job to start building this. This comes from how you interact at face-to-face events, and what you have to say, as well as your interactions online, what you’re commenting on and what you’re sharing. Search out articles that interest you and that you are confident in commenting on, share these on social media and let people know that those subjects interest you.
3. Find events that suit you
Just because you’ve been going to the same networking event for 3 years, doesn’t mean you should continue to do so. Ask yourself what you’re getting out of it and whether it’s worth continuing. Do you need to take a new approach, or is it worth trying some new events. Ask your current network what events they like to attend. Speak to event organisers to find out what other events they may run.
4. Look to help others first
It’s easy to assume that going to a networking event should involve you trying to sell your wares to anyone that will listen. In fact, there is so much value in listening to the issues and questions that other attendees have. Ask questions and provide them with any contacts you have that may be useful. This won’t be something they’ll easily forget and wins you a few brownie points in the process.
5. Make networking a natural habit
This is more about changing your frame of mind. Not ticking off a long action list every day. Taking a ‘networking approach’ to your everyday actions will make you far more effective. Open yourself up to talking about your own skills and services that your business offers. Feel confident in asking questions and finding out how you can help, or how someone you know could help. Let people know the type of client you’re looking for and remember, you never know who they know or even who they may be sitting down to dinner with that evening.
If you want to find about more about effective networking, we recommend reading Stefan Thomas’s Instant Networking