Making networking fun!
(Posted on 24/04/18)
Some people love to network and have a natural talent for it, while others may try to avoid it all costs and go to an event only under sufferance, with the intention of leaving as soon as possible. A few undoubtedly may find in themselves a tendency to spend an entire session wishing it was over and wondering how it is that other people manage to network so apparently effortlessly and even, dare I say it, appearing to enjoy it. Around 25% of professionals don’t network at all.
We all know that networking is good and useful in theory but making it work in practice can be a real challenge. Make sure to begin with that you are not wasting your time attending events that do not work for you. When it comes to networking, avoid those groups that foster an atmosphere of competition. These are unlikely to be useful or particularly enjoyable. Seek out those that encourage mutual support and a sense of collaboration. Make sure you are focusing on networking with like-minded people who understand what you are trying to achieve.
Of course, it’s essential that you are clear in your own head about why you are networking. What are your objectives in attending? Perhaps another way to think of it is, what do you need help with the most? Make sure you have that objective front of mind when you meet people. It can be helpful to think about what you are bringing with you that can benefit others, rather than what you want to take away with you for your own benefit.
However unnatural it may feel, it’s really effective to practise introducing yourself confidently so you can launch into your 60 second spiel without hesitation. Focus on saying, clearly and concisely, who it is you help, how you help them and why you enjoy doing it. It sounds so obvious, but when you introduce yourself to someone, when they respond, really listen to what they are saying. Focus on how you might be able to help them, or think about who you know who could help them. This will help you feel less nervous and feel less pressure to promote yourself directly. Remember it’s about establishing mutually beneficial relationships, not making direct sales there and then.