Tips for Networking

Networking takes purpose, patience and practice.

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Whenever you are interacting with other people you are actually networking. The key is to make sure that you are doing that effectively.

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When networking, focus on building relationships and don’t try to “sell to the room”. Once those relationships have been built with the right people to the right level then business will come…

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How confident you are as a networker is the sum total of how much you consider the other people there, how much preparation you do and how skilled you are when you network. Make sure you spend time addressing each of these three aspects.

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For every event that you attend, work out what your reasons are for attending that event before attending. Think SMARTly when doing this so you can set realistically achievable goals. 

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After attending an event, reflect on and evaluate that event so you can determine (over time) which events you get the most out of (and which you don’t).

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Before attending an event, work out specifically who you would like to meet at the event. This might be (named) individuals, types of people, types of businesses or any other way you want to classify who it is that you would like to meet. Doing this will allow you to focus on that whilst you are there and work towards achieving your goals for that event.

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Do your research before going so you are ready to talk to the people you want to talk to. Think of the questions you could ask them and the questions that they might ask you (and of your answers to those questions).

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When networking via Social Media, the principles of knowing who you want to connect with, doing your research and evaluating your activities all still apply.

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If the people you want to talk to are not free, make sure you talk someone/anyone. It’s a more effective use of your time than just standing there waiting and you never know where that conversation might lead or who they might know themselves!

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On occasion, it’s OK to go to an event and only talk to people you already know as that helps to continue to build the relationships that you have with them.

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Take an interest in the other people there. (This is where your research can come in handy!) The easiest way to do this is to ask them questions and actively listen to their answers.

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Although it might sound a bit counterintuitive, the more you take an interest in someone, the more interesting they start to find you.

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Taking a questions-based approach solves the problem that many people think they have when they go networking – “I never know what to say!”

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A great networking question to ask is, “Who would you most like to be introduced to?”

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The phrase, “Would you like me to introduce you to someone who can help you with that?”, is a great way of bringing together two of your connections if one needs the other’s help.

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When it’s your turn to answer the questions, make sure you answer them in an interesting way. (This is where your research and preparation come in handy.)

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If someone asks you, “What do you do?”, don’t tell them your job title. Instead, explain to them how you help people.

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Being interested and then interesting works well when networking via Social Media channels as well.

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Knowing how to look like you are confident is the first step to actually being confident. If you look confident, that’s what people will think that you are…

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If possible, wear your badge on your right-hand side as it makes it easier for someone to see your name when you shake hands with them.

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When introduced to somebody for the first time, politely repeat their name as part of your reply. It shows that you are interested in talking to them (and also makes it easier to remember it!).

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One way to avoid the “hassle” of managing food and drink is to not eat at the event itself but to eat before you go (or after you get back).

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In the same way that you can’t go to every networking event, you can’t network via every Social Media channel either so pick the channels where you’ll find your ideal connections and concentrate on those.

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When attending events online, make sure your technology doesn’t get in the way.

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If you are attending virtually, you can use the space around your screen to have information visible that will help you to network effectively (and your audience won’t be able to see it!). Make sure, though, that this information does not distract you from looking into the camera.

You can find more tips, best practices and examples in my book How to be BETTER at NETWORKING – In Person and Online.