Networking is such a big topic with so many juicy tips and hints! We can’t resist giving you one more blog post full of different stories, hints and tips for you to become the best net worker you can be!

Never eat lunch alone!

In ‘The Pursuit of Wow!’, management guru Tom Peters advises managers never to eat lunch alone. He reasons that there are 49 working weeks in a year and, after subtracting some holidays, you are left with 225 lunches per year. That, says Peters, is 225 opportunities to network and develop relationships with colleagues and clients. Of course, his calculations don’t even include power breakfasts – ‘a new opportunity for networking’, says Peters.

 

networking is an important part of your career success and your business development. For network training check out Global Training Institute's short courses. How to mingle

Networking at events, whether business or social, can be fulfilling and produce the desired result when done well. Here are some guidelines, with thanks to Ivan Misner, author of ‘Networking for Success’, Susan RoAne, nationally known speaker and author of’How To Work A Room’, and Entrepreneurial Edge magazine:

  1. Come prepared. Have business cards, a pen and even a small notebook. It may come in handy for making more extensive notes than you can fit on the back of a business card.
  2. Know how to describe your business in one or two sentences, including a benefit statement, or a story about ho you handled a recent project or helped a client.
  3. Know what you want to accomplish at the event. For example, your purpose may be meeting a certain number of people, or finding a particular resource.
  4. Act according to the event. If you are attending a networking event, you can be a little more focused on developing business connections than is appropriate at a formal social function.
  5. Develop several different ways to start conversations. These can include commenting on the reason for the event, asking other people why they decided to attend, or even asking them to tell you something about themselves.
  6. Be positive, friendly, enthusiastic and have fun! Take the initiative in starting conversations. Avoid making negative comments on the room, the food, the guests or your host.
  7. Act as if you are a host, not a guest. Reach out to people standing by themselves, the ones Susan RoAne calls “the white knuckle drinkers.” Introduce people to each other. Be helpful.
  8. Don’t be afraid to approach people. Strangers are merely friends you haven’t met yet. If you focus on the other person’s comfort, you will lose your own self-consciousness.
  9. Exchange business cards when appropriate. Ask for other people’s cards if you sincerely want to keep in touch with them. Not everyone you meet will be a good resource.

10. Keep track of your new connections by making notes on the backs of their business cards, or in your notebook. Unless you have an extraordinary memory, you won’t remember the specifics of your conversations without jotting them down on the scene.

11. Try to spend no more than l0 minutes with each person you meet. Remember that both of you are at the event to circulate and meet a variety of people, not to spend the entire evening involved in one conversation.

12. Listen more than you talk. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. And remember that there is nothing more flattering than someone who listens carefully and shows sincere interest in other people.

13. Don’t drink or eat too much. You can’t easily shake hands and juggle a drink and an hor d’oeuvre plate all at the same time. And, while this sounds obvious, you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full.

14. Provide a good lead or referral whenever possible. Listen for a need. Tell the prospect you know someone who offers that service, and describe the person or company you have in mind. Ask the prospect if it’s all right to have that person call. Give the information to the prospect, and give the lead to the resource. Above all, don’t knowingly supply bad leads to someone else. “What goes around, comes around” applies to bad leads as well as good ones.

15. Know how to gracefully end conversations. According to Miss Manners, it is perfectly fine to simply say, “Excuse me, it has been nice meeting you” or “I’ve enjoyed our conversation.” Then visibly move to some other part of the room.

16. Follow up with the people you meet, and the contacts they give you, in a timely manner. “If you’re going to ask for a lead,” says Susan RoAne, “either follow up on that lead or let the person know you won’t. If your follow-through is weak, people will feel you aren’t good for your word.”

17. Send a thank you note to sources of new connections, and keep them informed of your progress. They have a vested interest in your success, and will probably want to support you as much as they can.

18. Bring your whole self to the event. You are not just your business. On the personal side, you also have a distinct background and a wide variety of interests.

19. Be open to serendipity. You never know when the “magic” of networking might strike!

 

The Pavlova

Barry Creyton, Australian actor and playwright, advises that, if you’re intent on networking, don’t look as if you’re networking! He supports this timely tip with this tale (the veracity of which is debatable):

“At a party in Sydney some years ago, a producer (who didn’t follow my advice) used the pretence of a conversation with me to gaze over my shoulder and attract the attention of others. So busy was she working the room that she tripped over a chair and fell heavily into a Pavlova. The moral of my story is this: Until you become an expert networker, watch out for the obstacles people might put in your path.”

 

Be not afraid

Fear of making a mistake often holds a person back in their career, says Robyn Hendersen, author of ‘Networking For Success’. She says networking is about taking risks, making mistakes, feeling stupid at times, and constantly moving out of your comfort zone.

“It’s okay to make a mistake. Successful networkers make lots of mistakes. They overcome their fear of failing, fear of rejection, fear of losing friends and fear of not being liked.”

Remember: while one person hesitates because s/he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.

 

OYOB’s Ten Tips for Successful Networking #1

  1. Acknowledge what stops you from networking at the level you want, and decide to overcome it. Don’t get in the way of your own success. Resolve to become an excellent networker whatever it takes. Keep your promises to yourself and stay true to the networking disciplines.
  2. Pinpoint your purpose for networking, write it down and refer to it often.
  3. Recognise that the aim of networking is NOT to sell to everyone you meet. Appreciate that the first step when networking is simply to develop good personal relationships. Understand that when a good relationship is forged, your next step is simply to give and to receive information and only where appropriate, to move onto a potential business relationship.
  4. Re-inspire yourself about what you do for a living – re-sell yourself! If you can’t, change to something you’re passionate about. Write down your proposition and practise saying it out loud. Then, when you come to say it to a stranger, you are sure of what you are saying.
  5. Re-evaluate what you have to offer and get clear about how you can benefit others. Make your proposition crystal clear, so that you can recognise opportunities. Understand that some people will be searching for what you offer.
  6. Write down your purpose in life and values. For example, your purpose in life may be to be a driving force in sales and marketing and your business values may include having fun, making a difference, getting results, creating win-win situations and maintaining a balanced life.
  7. Undertake self-development courses to gain more confidence. You’ll find plenty on the Internet, at your local library or by asking your contacts for their recommendations.
  8. Think two or three steps ahead. What practical steps will you need to take if someone shows an interest?
  9. Set networking goals. For example: to approach and talk with five complete strangers at the next function you attend, or to collect three business cards. Carry your business cards with you everywhere in a specially designed holder and always have them easily to hand.

10. Ask people for their business cards – it is flattering. Take down their details if they don’t have a card.

OYOB: Owning Your Own Business magazine, Brisbane, Queensland 2001

 

OYOB’s Ten Tips for Successful Networking #2

  1. Write brief notes about what the person said/actions you will take on the back of their business card.
  2. Become outstanding at remembering other people’s names – and use them.
  3. Create a database for good network contacts – the best way is on a palm-top computer backed up on your PC.
  4. Keep up-to-date notes about the people you meet on your database, so that you can refer to them later
  5. Grade your contacts A, B or C so that you can prioritise your time in follow-though and focus on those people with whom regular contact will be most mutually beneficial.
  6. Carry at least one good quality writing implement with you at all times.
  7. Carry your diary or, better still, an electronic organiser with you so you can make appointments there and then.
  8. Consider having your photograph on your business card so people differentiate you after you’ve met with them.
  9. Invest in having unique stationery by appointing a good graphic designer.

10. Specialise. When you focus on a niche area within your line of work, your efforts are concentrated, you produce better results and people recommend you. Target your services at a niche group of clients. This way, your network will be made up of like-minded people who will spread the word about you.

OYOB: Owning Your Own Business magazine, Brisbane, Queensland 2001

 

OYOB’s Ten Tips for Successful Networking #3

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people. Take the lead with them, accept and welcome them. Approach people confidently, either face-to-face at an event, in writing or, at worst, by email. Filter out those people who cause you anxiety or problems. Close your eyes and visualise yourself working successfully with the very best people you can imagine. Do this at least twice a day and you will begin to attract this kind of network
  2. Do what your conscience and instincts tell you are right when networking.
  3. Challenge yourself to be more courageous day by day. For example, approach people who you fear would not be interested in you. By talking and listening to them, you’ll learn more about how they think and be better equipped for the next person and so on.
  4. Become the one who sets up meetings and organises others to action. Make things happen around you.
  5. Believe in the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory. It has been proven that we are each within just six telephone calls of everyone in the world, so there is nothing stopping you from having whoever you like in your network.
  6. Put you contacts together with others who would be useful to them. You’ll soon become the kind of person that everyone wants to know
  7. Make it a priority to listen properly. That means emptying your mind of everything else except what the other person is saying. Absorb yourself in what you are being told. Delay you own input and just let the other person talk.
  8. Ask open-ended questions to encourage others to open up. Start questions with who, what, when, where and how to keep then open-ended.
  9. Be sensitive to non-talkers, who only become verbose about things that really excite them and who are otherwise more comfortable listening than they are talking.

10. Develop a great web site so people can follow-up with you.

OYOB: Owning Your Own Business magazine, Brisbane, Queensland 2001

 

OYOB’s Ten Tips for Successful Networking #4

  1. Practise your handshake with someone you know. It should be firm and confident. Beware of being the ‘wet fish’ or ‘bone-crusher’.
  2. Watch your body 1anguage – ‘non-touchers’ will stiffen slightly and even step back if they think you are about to stand too close. ‘Touchers’ will feel more comfortable standing close to you. This will help you develop a good relationship quickly. Make confident eye contact. This makes others feel that you accept and like them – but do not stare.
  3. Learn the networking customs of other cultures before travelling to their country on business.
  4. Check your breath. Clean your teeth, use a spray, or chew some mint gum before the event.
  5. Check your appearance immediately before going into a networking function.
  6. Develop a confident, interesting and memorable reply for when people ask what you do.
  7. Speak in public, to raise your profile, and give people confidence in you.
  8. Speak as if you want to be heard. Put a bit of passion into it.
  9. Smile. It’s a sign of confidence.

10. Accept that when people don’t smile back, its not because they are rejecting you.

OYOB: Owning Your Own Business magazine, Brisbane, Queensland 2001

 

OYOB’s Ten Tips for Successful Networking #5

  1. Have an open agenda. Once you have developed a good personal relationship and established mutual interest, suggest a clear agenda for taking things further.
  2. Write down and then memorise a set of questions you can ask of anyone at any function. For example, ‘How did you get into your line of business?’ and ‘What are the main challenges you’re facing at the moment? Then you’ll find taking the lead in conversations easier.
  3. Plan how to close a conversation and move away graciously. For example: ‘I’m glad we met. I look forward to staying in touch’ or, best of all, ‘May I introduce you to X? You have several things in common’.
  4. Follow up. Write follow-up notes. Make follow-up calls. Stay in touch with people.
  5. Keep your promises to those you meet. For example, if you promise to send information, send it as a matter of urgency.
  6. Make time for networking as a priority activity.
  7. Read for at least half an hour a day. Keep up to date with the news. Then you can converse on a range of subjects.
  8. Believe that fate will work in you favour, that you are lucky, that you are destined to meet the right people. Be alert to coincidences. They are often a sign that you are compatible with certain people and companies.
  9. Wear your nametag to the right rather than to the left. This is the opposite of the norm and subconsciously memorable.

10. Stand tall, breathe deeply and move with purpose. You’ll be a magnet to others.

OYOB: Owning Your Own Business magazine, Brisbane, Queensland 2001

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