How do you actually network?
Networking. A blasé term for ‘building connections’, which, for many of us, can be daunting, and at times, unsuccessful. And it’s not a trait that comes naturally to anyone – it’s a skill that requires constant practice and refinement.
Networking is key here at WordStorm PR, so we’ve got some tips and tricks for making the most out of an invaluable skill.
Understand the reasons why you’re networking. The concept itself seems great, but if your approach isn’t geared towards something like gaining referrals, job leads, exposure or building your business, then you might be networking blind. Always carry a wealth of knowledge, a couple of hobbies, and plenty of business cards!
Forget your personal agenda
This is commonly overlooked by first time networkers looking for connections. Rather than approaching networking events or situations solely with, ‘what’s in it for me?’, consider asking yourself, ‘how can I help?’. It’s okay to be excited to jump in the ring, but you don’t want that eagerness to come across as desperation.
Never think you are above anyone
Conversely, if someone eagerly approaches you, don’t assume that they are less important. Find the value in every person you talk to, whether it be a common hobby, a similar business pursuit, or a mutual connection.
LISTEN and LEARN
Smile. Be polite. Ask questions. Listen to what they have to say, and don’t just act engaged, be engaged. Repeat their name when they introduce themselves so you don’t have that uncomfortable moment of, ‘wait, sorry…what was your name again?’ You’re not only gaining a myriad of information from them, but you’re also building a respected and reputable rapport.
It’s not just a two way street
Connect the people you meet to other people you know that might interest both parties. Being the anchor between two or more successful connections is beneficial for your network.
If you said you’ll get in touch, ACTUALLY get in touch
If you tell someone that you’ll give them a call, give them a call. People will be highly appreciative if you’ve followed through with any promises made on your first meeting. If you’ve found yourself too flat out to invest in building your connection, let them know that you’ve got a lot on your plate but you’re still interested in working with them in the near future.
Networking isn’t just for work
Just because you’re not at a certain event, doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to properly meet and greet people. Even if someone introduces themselves in an out-of-the-9-to-5-office situation, don’t assume that they’re not beneficial to you or your business.
Take rejection on the chin
If someone doesn’t follow up as promised or refuses to take your details, don’t take it personally. They might be extremely overloaded with work, they might have a business competitor of yours in their network which could be a conflict of interest, or maybe they haven’t read these awesome tips! Instead, invest that energy developing your own skills and talents with your established connections.
Written by Caitlin O’Brien