Love it or loathe it, networking is a powerful way of learning, giving and relating to others. However sometimes people feel they just don’t know where to start. So here are ten top tips on ways that you can power up your networking skills:
- Know who you know – professionals would call this a database but that sounds very formal. Just know who it is that you know. Divide them into those you know well and would recommend you and those you know less well – how can you move one or two of those a month into the first list?
- Join a virtual network – spend a couple of hours a month playing. See who you know and see who they know. Build some virtual connections. Find a group that is a proper forum and join the debate. Not every day in everyway, just see who you can help.
- Find a reason to get in touch – doing charity events and needing sponsorship are great ways of enabling you to connect without talking about work at all!
- Join a professional association – play an active role. Not only will you build a profile, extend the number of people you know but you will learn and develop yourself at the same time.
- No selling – hang onto the fact that this is about relationships of trust not selling.
- Know – know who you want to network with, know what you need to know about them and how you can help them. Be focused and targeted BUT never forget, it is who your network know that might be the critical link for you. So don’t be too focused!
- Create or rekindle a relationship – When you go to an event – a conference or an association meeting, try to create at least one relationship/re-kindle an old one. You don’t have to have ambitions to meet everyone or leave a business card on every plate. But take your business cards and give them away. Get there early, that might sound like a nightmare, but you won’t have to walk into a room full of people and the others that are there early may also be looking for someone to talk to.
- Know how to leave – If you are talking to someone and you feel you have had enough, turn your body about fifty degrees away from them, that opens up the pair and makes it possible for someone else to join you. Or if you want to leave make sure that they feel valued, offer to call them for a longer discussion or meet them before the next meeting.
- Be clear about who you are – Sounds like a no-brainer, but you need to be able to sum up who you are and what you do. It may work if you have a really clear job title or a very high profile organisation but if you want to stick in someone’s mind, you may need to say more than ‘I’m an Assistant Director’. How much more impactful to be ‘the guy who makes sure you can drive your car through Watford at 8.30am on a Monday morning’ (traffic engineer) or ‘I’m the woman who makes sure that the Board don’t go to gaol for setting illegal budgets.’ (accountant).
- You may need polite persistence – After you have met someone and got their number, if you need to go and see them, need them to give you information or recommend you, you may need to expect a few delays, cancellations or postponements. Don’t take it personally. Put yourself in their shoes and ask how high would you make it as a priority. But on the other hand don’t assume they will never help you. Most people like to help others. You need to persist.
Have any of these tips helped power up your network? Let us know in the comment below.