I’ve been running a lot of networking workshops and facilitating interactive networking events this year. I love the opportunity to help people reduce the ‘awkwardness’ of networking and really find value in connecting with new people.
I really think networking has a bad stigma. Genuinely because people have made the process too ‘sales based’ and really forgotten the real purpose – to form connections with new people.
Through the workshops and activities I’ve been running this year I’ve found some key points for people to take with them to help make the most of networking opportunities. I hope these are valuable to you.
- Reframe networking. Personally I don’t believe in small talk. I think the way we approach networking needs to be less about ‘filling time’ or ‘a boring activity’ and more about how we can build relationships and meet new people. I work to genuinely enjoy the conversations I have when networking so I can leave the best impression on my new connections and feel positive about the experience.
- Provide value for free. Word of mouth is such a valuable asset for developing connection and communities and I find that conversations where you g out of your way to help others or connect them with your networks are the most valuable. Provide information, insights and contacts and be remembered for being a helpful, connected human.
- Be memorable. What’s the saying: ‘people may forget what you said but they’ll remember how you made them feel.’ This one is essential for networking. It’s not about saying everything in that moment it’s about being remembered so when you follow up there’s something to break the ice and connect with. Focus on being present and sharing relatable stories and asking valuable questions. They’re excellent ways to make sure the person you’re speaking too feels valued and remembers you as an enjoyable person to communicate with.
Inevitably the key to being a good networker is to be a good communication and that really requires you to be in the moment. You need to listen and engage with enthusiasm and be open and generous with your stories and information.
The number one piece of advice though is to HAVE FUN! If you’re having fun in a conversation other people will as well. And that’s the sort of impression you want to leave with people.