It seems to me that you’re either born to network or you have to work at it – for many of us it’s the latter. There’s nothing particularly exciting or easy about walking into a crowded room full of strangers, with sole intent of striking up a conversation, keeping it flowing and leaving it at the right moment.
But, as we all know, relationships drive business and New Business Directors need to thrive in a networking environment. Knowing how to build a network of valuable contacts is pretty essential to the job.
So here are some tips on how to approach it, make the most of it, and even enjoy it.
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 will be reciprocated at some point.
We all know that person who 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 – verging on the rude – and suggests that they’ve not mastered the skills of listening and asking questions, finding something of value in everyone.
Mastering active listening and smart questioning techniques are both skills necessary to be a high-performing New Business Director. 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 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 as well as 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.
MAKING NETWORKING WORK
Early Worm Club, 1st June
8am to 10am, Wallacespace, Covent Garden
Join Lee Warren, Business Psychologist and Magician, at our next Early Worm Club on 1st June.
Drawing on his former life as Magician, attending over 1,000 events where he had to engage individuals and strike up conversations, fast – Lee will be sharing his professional advice on how to develop your skills as a networker and build a valuable network of contacts.
The cost is £75 plus VAT
To book your ticket please contact firstname.lastname@example.org