I met with the fabulous Bridget Aherne the other day and as usual we had a good old natter! I left our catch up feeling motivated, inspired and excited about the future, which made me think how important it is to be surrounded by like-minded people who just get you.
I spend quite a lot of time going to various events, meetings and conferences. From these events I have met some amazing people that I never would have had the opportunity to meet if I didn’t put myself out there. I know networking can be uncomfortable for some people (or not-working as my old boss once said!), but once you take that leap it does become much easier. Here are some things that have helped me in the past:
Tip one: Put your phone away
One of the worst things you can do at a face-to-face networking event, in my opinion, is have your head down looking at your phone. I can almost guarantee that no one will come over and chat to you if you look distracted. I’m guilty of having my phone permanently attached to my hand, but at events I try to keep my phone in my bag and only tend to check it if I’m at the bar or on my way to the rest room.
Tip two: Smile
An easy one but a smile can make such a difference at an event. I don’t know about you but if someone is looking distracted or annoyed, I don’t tend to walk over to them and introduce myself. I always look for people with bright smiley faces who seem open and approachable.
Tip three: Share not sell
I’ve been to many events in the past where people tell me to avoid a certain person as all they are doing is selling their service or over promoting themselves. The best way to network, in my view, is to try to share information about yourself in a natural way rather than selling or over promoting your business. Don’t become a ‘networking ‘nob’ that people have to avoid.
Tip four: Research
Try and find out who is going to be there and who you want to connect with before you go along. Being prepared with some questions will allow you to start conversations naturally with them without waffling or going off on a tangent. But don’t dominate the conversation by firing off question after question. Keep it natural, involve other people and most importantly LISTEN to what they are saying!
Tip five: Follow up after each connection
How many of us have gone home and then completely forgotten about the people we have spoken to after a couple of days. I’m definitely guilty of that. To ensure you get the most out of your networking efforts make sure you connect with them on LinkedIn or Twitter. Tell them how lovely it was to meet them and how you enjoyed the conversation on ABC etc – it makes a big difference and can help build strong relationships.
What are your top tips for networking? Let me know below or tweet me at @Advita_p.
If you’re based in Manchester and want to do some networking then I’ll be at the following events: