I was recently running a course on the power of networking and asked delegates their opinions on their views on networking.
- 'It's a necessary evil'
- 'I feel as if I am prostituting myself'
- I'm not good at that sort of thing'
These were just some of the comments that came back to me but when we think of it - what does a networking event or a simple get together with people we know do for you? Surely it is a way to build up your contacts, learn about others, share knowledge not to mention keep you motivated from the day to day grind of job search or application forms. The trick is to not set yourself up for a fall. Here are some useful steps to get you started:
1. See it as a way of helping others - you are a valuable resource and your skills may just be what they are looking for.
2. For your first couple of events go with someone else who is well used to the networking arena - it helps if you can be introduced to others.
3. Be interested in other people - how can you help them with your own knowledge and contacts?
4. Ask lots of questions, what do they do, how did they get into that role, not to mention the nice
conversation starters, have you been at this event before or what usually happens at this event?
5. Don't go into a big spiel about what you do - people tend to turn off if you immediately try to sell
them something but think of a clever way of saying something which will invite questions, for
Rather than say - I'm a procurement specialist - I help you get the best deals for your business
- I'm a network technician - I'm the person you talk to when you have a problem with your pc
- I work in HR - I help you get the most out of your people
The examples are endless and often people then ask for more information on your skills
6.See every networking event as a learning opportunity, yes you will be outwith your comfort zone but let's face it, that's often where you learn the most.
7.Often networking events give you details on who is attending the event - use that information to home in on potential contacts before and after the event.
8. Have some details with you that you can hand out when asked, to give people you talk to a
better understanding of what you do.
9. Always remember to have business cards with you, if you are not a business then get cards made up highlighting specialisms and contact details.
10.Always follow up with contacts you have made - business is all about relationships and
developing that rapport. Being helpful and giving information can often lead to much more.
Go on give it a go - see it as an adventure and another way for others to know just exactly what you can do!