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IT'S THE TIME FOR PENGUINS AND NETWORKING
Yes, it’s here. John Lewis tugging at our heartstrings with a poignant tale of a lonely penguin, inducing feelings of warmth and love which we can then bestow on others with a suitably gorgeous trinket. It’s the battle of the Creatives as they vie for our increasingly worn sensibilities, and wallets. Yes it’s here: the glitz, frenzy and sensory overload of the festive season.
The festive tradition continues with a slew of invites to party, drink and practise the delicate art of balancing a wine glass with nibbles on a plate. For the ever-vigilant new business professional, always with an eye for the opportunity, this is more than a Christmas warm-up – it’s the chance to network. It seems to me that you’re either born to network, or you have to work at it, either way, here are some tips on how to make the most of it, and make it through to the other side.
What is successful networking?
For us in new business, it’s largely about developing professional relationships which could ultimately lead to referrals and new business opportunities. But shift the perspective a little and there is arguably a more enjoyable and valuable way to meet and nurture your connections.
Fulfilling your role as an integral part of a network has one central goal: helping others in the room. The mantra playing in your head could usefully be expressed as “How can I help you?” with little regard for your personal agenda. Forging connections between people who can help each other is an attractive trait, and will be remembered as an act of generosity. More likely than not, that spirit of giving (it is Christmas, after all) will be reciprocated at some point.
We all know that person whom whilst feigning interest in your hilarious anecdotes is scanning the room over your shoulder in search of someone more important to target. It’s really not appealing – and positively rude - and suggests that they’ve not mastered the skills of listening and asking questions, finding something of value in everyone.
Listening, asking questions and learning reside at the core of the new business director’s repertoire of skills. So it should be second nature to use these to good networking effect, by joining the dots and building valuable bridges between people.
Well actually it’s more than that; it’s follow up and through to completion. It’s useful to use your connections’ business cards to scribble down a few notes on as you work the room; what you said and what you promised, then review these the following day. Then it’s jfdi, be it an email introduction or a call. Unfulfilled promises are so disappointing, and potentially damaging to your reputation.
I was always advised not to be fashionably late. Plan your evening; this is particularly important if you have more than one event to attend. Get there early and stand close to the door, that way you’ll be able to meet more people as they arrive and avoid the inner scrum.
And don’t forget, have a great time and feel free to share your own networking tips with us.