10 of the best ways to network
9th November 2012
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"Networking" is the word that the business world uses to describe "people getting on with people". And most of us are pretty good at doing just that.

However, if you throw us into a commercial setting with a name badge pinned to our lapel we somehow forget that we know how to get on with people and start worrying about whether we're "networking" like we're supposed to.

We're also under the illusion that everyone's miles better at networking than we are - more commercially focused, more confident, self-assured, interesting, erudite, relaxed and totally at ease with the whole situation.

Well, the truth of it is this - they're not! They are in fact feeling exactly the same way as you do, so read on for 10 tips to help you improve:

1. Have a goal

There is absolutely no point in going to a networking event on the premise that you may just bump into someone who could give you some work. You don't have time for that so it's much better to be targeted when it comes to working the room - remember, quality is always better than quantity.

2. Lighten up

You need to come across as professional, knowledgeable and credible. But it is possible to do this without killing your conversation with industry jargon. People buy people so it's important to let your personality shine through.

3. Relax

Just adding to the phrase previously used - people buy from people that they like. All but the most socially inadequate get on with people so relax, indulge in a little small talk and enjoy it.

4. Getting things going (do you want coffee?)

Breaking into a group can be tricky, and often used as a last resort. However, there's an easy ice-breaker over at the refreshment table. If you've poured yourself a coffee just ask the person next to you in the queue if they'd like one. If they say yes, offer them yours.

5. The first three steps of body language

Back in the 70's, Dr Desmond Morris discovered that there are 3 main steps through which human beings move when they meet for the first time:

  • Eye to Body (make sure you look the part!)
  • Eye to Eye (don't stare)
  • Hand to Hand (make sure your handshake is firm, dry and not too long)

6. Get their name right

Those 3 steps up there can create a lot of "visual noise", which is why you might not hear the person's name when they first tell you. Once you know that this is happening, repeat their name as soon as they tell you and use it 3 or 4 times in the first couple of minutes.

7. It's all about the chit-chat

Business-like conversation starters can be a tad clinical and they also mean you're missing out on crucial 'self-disclosure', which is the process that helps us to establish a rapport with others. Consider small talk a bonding ritual and don't dismiss a bit of weather talk or discussion of journeys to the venue.

8. Make sure you listen

Stop thinking about delivering your pitch or telling people about your latest deal or project because whilst you're preoccupied with that, you aren't really listening to what you're being told. After all, you've got one mouth and two ears so use them in those proportions.

9. Being remembered

Save yourself being referred to as 'some lawyer guy/ works is fashion/ does something in retail' after the event and make sure you get remembered. Here's where the personal stuff comes in because that's what we do remember - think hobbies, pastimes, what team you support and even what you're wearing.

10. Following up

You won't want to follow up with everyone you meet at a networking event but when you do, it's important to keep control of the process. Start by exchanging cards, tell them you've enjoyed talking to them and been really interested by what they had to say. Then say it would be great to catch up at some point so you can find out more. It's culturally unacceptable for them to look you in the eye and say no at this point. Then tell them you'll give them a ring in a few days to put a date in the diary - this is also known as the "assumptive close" by sales people and works a treat.

Article courtesy of Nick Davies

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Harry and Susan C

Member since: 10th July 2012

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