5 tips for successful networking
One of the sage pieces of advice my father gave to me as a teenager contemplating my career was to develop my networking skills. I didn’t understand what he meant, and it would take several years before the brilliance of his advice would sink in.
It really is about who you know. Social media makes it easier to find out who you should know and make yourself known; but nothing beats the good old-fashioned face to face networking event.
Let me dispel a myth – networking can benefit everyone. Whether you are a start-up, a solo entrepreneur, a mum getting back into the workplace or a stalwart corporate person, networking can bring huge value to you. It’s through networking that you get to stay on top of the issues important to your sector and to meet people doing interesting work.
Here are my tips to make networking a powerful and successful experience.
- Go with a clear intention. Make this networking event work for you - go with an intention to achieve something, meet a certain person or gather some data. You could, for example, plan to meet three people that would be useful in your network (and you to them), and to take away three pieces of useful data that will help your business.
- Have a business card. Whatever you are doing, have a business card. In a networking event, it’s impossible to remember everyone’s name. The exchange of business cards is an easy way of having your follow-up to do list. Just because you are a returning to work mum or a student doesn’t exclude you from having a card. It’s sign of your professionalism and how seriously you want to be taken. Sites like Moo.com make great business cards for reasonable prices.
- Have an opening line. This will take the pressure off you in the moment to come up with something. Have your line prepared – it doesn’t have to be complicated. You could opt to open with your name, what you do and why you're at THAT networking event. Then be curious about the person in front of you – people like to talk about themselves.
- Have a completed Linkedin profile. Whether you like social media or not, LinkedIn has become the reference site for business people. It’s free, easy to use so make it work for you. Include a picture, put detail in of each role you’ve had, and gather references to reflect the journey your career has taken.
- Follow-up post event. If you’ve asked for a meeting, or promised to share information, follow-up. It’s a sign of professionalism and courtesy. It’s also about making the most of the time and energy you’ve already invested.
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