Hate networking … you are not alone. How many times have you felt obligated to attend a function, to sit next to a complete stranger, make small talk and eat rubbery chicken? The reality is that we all need to network to survive in all areas of our life.
It’s not who you know…but who knows you that can make all the difference. Either you grasp hold of opportunity when it approaches, or it passes you by swiftly and leaves you nothing by which to change your circumstances for the better. A lot of people have great difficulty in networking. They find challenges wherever they look from noisy, impersonal, crowded rooms of people at events with boring speakers. But, make the most of every experience. Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can. Stay present in the process so that you remain aware of all the subtle opportunities.
Let’s think of the word “Networking.” Notice it has the word “work” in it. Yes, you actually have to do some work to get the benefits of networking. Here are some useful tips:
- Target higher networks i.e. bigger than you – Surround yourself with people smarter and wealthier than yourself. Wealth is a healthy measurement of success in business. Consider it an opportunity to learn what has worked and what hasn’t from business owners and professionals who are top of their game.
- Pretend you are the host. Go and introduce yourself to strangers and ensure that the people around you know each other. Connect and engage! This trait actually builds loads of good will.
Shy people have the potential to be very good networkers they just need to rise above their fears and trust themselves. The fact they are shy means they are very good listeners.
- If you see someone standing by themselves go and introduce yourself. Think about what must I do or say next, to take advantage of this opportunity?
- Now let’s dig deep if you really want to connect with people you have to tap into being fully present in that moment. Easier said than done with so many distractions in a crowded room. But, true presence is deep listening, being open beyond one’s preconceptions and past ways of making sense. By being open you hear things differently. By cultivating your ability to be more aware of your thoughts and not allowing them to drift when people speak to you…you can communicate on a much deeper level. Ask a real question and you will get a real answer.
Three questions that always work well at a network function are:
1. What prompted you to come along to this network function?
2. What type of work do you do?
3. What’s the best thing that has happened to you recently?
Search for Clues to improve your opportunity:
- What are the things people complain about? How can I help?
- What is currently trending in the marketplace? Where do I fit in?
- What special events are coming up? Is there another event worth for me to attend?
With those questions, you should be on your way to engaging someone. If not, assume they are a real bore and move on!
Ensure prior to the event you get the guest list if you can. Check out who is attending and know who you would like to meet. If it is impossible to connect with them at the event it is a great excuse after the event to send them an email or call and say, “I was sorry I missed the opportunity in meeting you at the recent CIO Summit, could we catch-up for a coffee to discuss….”
When you give someone your business card, always write something on the back of the card … make it personal. Just a few words should do the trick!
When you take someone’s business card write down on the back something to remind you later about that person i.e. red hair, loves golf, cute smile…you get my drift!
Always follow up – drop someone an email saying where you met, and something about the conversation you had. It shows you really were listening. For example, if they mentioned they loved golf include in the email an article about golf saying, “I thought this may interest you.” Don’t always make it work related – remember you are trying to build a relationship. Alternatively, call and make a suitable time to catch up.
Always send a personalised invite to connect on LinkedIn straight after the event whilst the person remembers who you are.Step outside your comfort zone and connect with creative people.
So Stay Open To Possibilities. Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities to come your way. Seize common occasions and make them great. However, it’s not the size of the opportunity that matters, it’s rather what you do with that opportunity that makes all the difference in the end. Therefore you should never underestimate or discount what an opportunity can do for you.
The greatest dividing line between success and failure can be stated in five words: “I did not have time.” Make time and network. You may be surprised at how many services and possibilities lie within your reach.
Please let me know your tips of what works when you network by leaving a comment.
We can all learn so much from each other!
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ABOUT ODILE FALUDI
Odile has worked in the not-for-profit, real estate, and the management consultancy space for the last twelve years. She has a proven track record of opening doors of C-suite level executives in the top 200 companies in Australia.
Odile is a passionate freelance writer and a business development consultant. She is trained in “Crucial Conversations” through VitalSmarts. They have helped 300 of the Fortune 500 realise significant results using a proven method for driving rapid, sustainable, and measurable change in behaviours.
Odile runs workshops in Australia, teaching Business Development Managers, Start-up Entrepreneurs, and Sales teams how to initiate client conversations. The aim is to widen their business net.
Request a course outline. Program available via SKYPE.
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