Networking is an important part of many aspects of modern working lives – career development, learning and development, and influencing and persuasion to name a few.
Some people seem to have natural networking skills, while others seem to find it more difficult. But the truth is networking is about skills that can be learned, practised and perfected.
It is something that never came naturally to me and I greatly admired those who just seemed to do it. But, recognising how important it was, I asked many people for advice along the way. Now I’d like to share this with you.
- Psych yourself up
No-one else in the room knows how you are feeling. Even if you are nervous enter the room smiling, establish eye contact, and nod
You won’t be expected to remember any complicated points on HR legislation. If you do have a blank mind ask a question that is easy for them to answer
If you are provided with a name badge, it should be worn as high as possible on your right hand side, as this is the line of sight from the handshake
If there is a list of attendees, do some research on people you are interested in meeting and keep an eye out for them during the event
Ask the organiser or someone else to introduce you to people you are interested in meeting
- Elevator pitch
Prepare and memorise a brief summary of your business
- Make it memorable
When giving your name, try to repeat it so as to fix it in your interlocutor’s memory, i.e. 'Hi, I’m Nigel, Nigel Walpole'
- Remembering names
Hopefully the other person will repeat their name when introducing themselves. You should use this whenever you can e.g. ‘So Chris, what brings you here?' Use visual triggers to help you remember – red tie = Chris, brown handbag = Gemma
- Ask again
Have a strategy for when you forget someone’s name. It’s probably best to just apologise and ask again
You might want others to join you so make it easy for them. Don’t stand directly facing your new found contact but stand at a slight angle
This should be easy, we have been doing it for years (but I know how difficult this can be). Prepare questions and some answers on the weather, sport, commuting woes or current affairs and look to build from there
- Get involved
Search for a group of people who are having a lively and upbeat conversation then move to within four or five feet of them and make eye contact with one of the speakers, smile and show that you are interested in what they are saying. Than ask "Do you mind if I join you?" - this what other people will do and they will expect you to do
- Introduce yourself to the group
Always introduce yourself to the person in the group who responded to you first, and then to the other guests. It never fails that the other guests will take your introduction as a cue to introduce themselves
Remember not to end your conversation abruptly, but wait for a slight pause – say you enjoyed speaking to them, use the person's name, and simply say you are going to circulate a bit and will see them later
- Hunt in pairs
Don’t forget it there are 2 of you present, think about how you can work as a team
- Offer help
The most effective form of networking is to be useful to others by offering advice, leads, suggestions and ideas – people like to reciprocate
As I mentioned before, I understand how important networking is and these tips, shared with me by some of our trainers who excel at it, have definitely helped me.
Contact us now to discuss how we can help your staff develop their skills and conquer networking situation.
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.
Copyright © 2015 Bray Leino Learning