Over the last few decades, I’ve met all types of networker’s - networking can be easy and natural for some, and very hard work for others. Successful networking is a skill that can be learned through training, coaching and practice. Knowing the right techniques and behaviours of effective networking increases confidence and allows you to collaborate and enhance your career.
So why is it that some people seem blessed with a natural ability to engage, while others stumble over their words and blush with embarrassment? It all comes down to your frame of mind.
The right preparation
Being prepared sets you up for success. Those who are new to networking often try and just ‘wing it’. They go from one person to the next hoping to bump into the right person, and when they do, they often have no idea what to say.
A well-prepared networker on the other hand, will have a clear target. They will have researched who will be at the event they’re attending and will have put some thought into what they need to say when they meet that person. It’s a strategic meeting that has a much greater chance of success.
Before you attend an event, find out as much about it as you can. Find out who will be there, who the speakers are and which companies will have a representative there. Most of this information will be available on the invitation, but if you need to dig a little deeper, simply ask the organisers a few questions. They will be happy to help because they want as many people to attend as possible.
When you have some names, do your research. Read their bio on their company website. Look them up on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Google them. If there’s someone that stands out as being a person you want to meet, and you find out you both went to the same university (or are in an online group together, or share a hobby), you have a perfect conversation starter that can lead into a strategic discussion.
The right mindset
Getting into the right mindset can greatly improve your networking abilities. Rather than meeting people and assessing them by thinking “What’s in it for me?”, think instead about what value you can offer them. If you’re working on a similar project to the one they’ve just started, offer to show them your research notes. If you have a contact you can refer them to, share your connections.
You never know where this kind of good will might take you. Think of it as good karma. Offering value without expecting anything in return does amazing things for your mindset. There’s no pressure and no disappointment, so you’re networking behaviour relaxes and becomes natural.
These two strategies – preparation and mindset – are two fundamental skills for successful networking that can be learned. Get in touch with us to find a training solution perfect for your needs.
Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit www.juliapalmer.com & www.BusinessNetworkingAcademy.com.au