Our resident life coach, Margaret Smith, tackles the secrets to how to network successfully in a room full of strangers… something many of us can’t bear the thought of!
Network your way to success
Network your way to success
Mention networking to the modern working woman and the idea is about as appealing as a de-tox diet or Gordon Brown in his Y-fronts. Frankly it’s a nightmare prospect whatever way you look at it. Working a room full of strangers, making instant impressions and coming away with more than a red face and sweaty palm is the least of it.
You need the courage of Vin Diesel to walk up to people deep in conversation and engage them in a meaningful way. But nifty networkers know how to enjoy the process of connecting and exchanging business cards which can lead on to meaningful professional relationships and even an increase in business and job opportunities.
As a seasoned networker myself I coach business owners and executives alike to overcome their fears and pre-conceived notions about what networking is and how to master the art of making core connections. Here are a few powerful tips to help you glide from floor to soar.
Check your beliefs. Could you be thinking something negative about yourself, the people or the event before you? If you are assuming people won’t find you interesting, that you will never meet anyone worth connecting with or that you just aren’t memorable enough this could limit your chances. Try thinking – “I am curious about people and who is here” – “People may wish to know about me and what I have to offer”.
Ice breakers. Be sure to have some killer ice breaking questions ready to roll after introductions. Good openers include “Hi, what would you like to get out of this event today?” or “Who have you come here to meet?” Always be prepared to ask lots of questions about the individual such as the business challenges they face, what clients they are looking for etc.
Have a goal. Keep in mind what it is you wish to achieve from the event and even ask for it. Say who you would like to meet or what you would like to learn and other people may be able to connect you to the right person.
Be the connector. Make yourself indispensible by introducing others, being the social fulcrum will get you noticed and is a generous way of doing business.
Mark their card. When you received a business card, look at the person’s name, title and company and make a favourable comment about it. When they have gone make a little note on the back of their card to remind you of what you said and any future action you need to take. Always email them the next day to say you were delighted to meet them to ensure you remain in their consciousness.
Be memorable. Looking good, being humorous and good company or sharing information that is useful to others is a good way of being remembered long after the event. What impression would you like to make on the people you are connecting with?
Remember practice makes perfect. Be confident and focused and you will find networking as easy as socializing but heaps more potential.