It’s Not a Booze Cruise: The Dos & Don’ts of Networking
With the final quarter of the year left, when everyone is busy running mad to achieve those goals and objectives and the silly season only a few months away this is the time of the year where there are a number of network opportunities to help you get ready for the new year.
Here are a few tip tips to help you
1. Be strategic
a) Target the events you want to go to and which will help you meet your objectives
b) Find out who is on the guest list so you can review who is coming and how they can add value to what you are doing
c) Research the people (linked in, website etc) of the people you want to chat to at the event
d) Get to the event and make a beeline to get to them and have a conversation. Hopefully you found something interesting in your research to get the conversation going.
2. Be observant and don’t judge a book by its cover
There are a lot of people that go to events and they each have their own agenda. Someone might not look like your type, target market etc, but they might be extremely connected and know someone that can help you. I have been to a number of events where some people aren’t inclusive in discussion, and I talk to any random I can because everyone has value to add. On both occasions – these people have been my golden nugget, connected and helpful – yet not many people were speaking to them. So see (2 below)
3. The Follow up
Follow up is king! Not just connecting on Linkedin but an email or a call makes it personal. A quick email highlighting; how great it was to meet and a little nugget of what you talked about and a call to action such as organising that coffee chat. Do this the next day! Don’t wait too long (be sure not to do no 1 in the Don’ts below)
4. Be Yourself
Networking events are meant as the launchpad for relationship building. If you can’t be yourself, then don’t bother as you will be starting these relationships off with false hope. Be genuine as the people you connect with when you are being your authentic self are the ones who you’ll want to stay in touch with. So if you;re a bit of a joker, laugh, swear whatever your unique traits are so be it, because people also buy into people. So keep your personality.
5. Sharing is caring
Many times at events we meet people that might not be a good fit for what you are working on however maybe useful for others. If you are willing to share your contacts and resources, then others would be willing to do the same – that is the power of the network.
Photo by Kelsey Knight on Unsplash
1. The Booze Cruise
No it is not!!– Events are fun, booze, nibbles and lots of chitter chatter. However a rookie error is thinking you are at a party and it’s time to let your hair down (esp around xmas season) Don’t get so smashed that you behave inappropriate say things you will regret or most importantly (see 2 above) can’t remember the conversations to do a follow up the next day.
2. The Clickie group
Some events you see they same faces, same people and that’s great that you all get along with each other. But don’t hang out chatting the whole time. If you want to do that – organise a catch up in the pub. The point of your networking is to meet your strategic goals not catch up and chat with people that already know what you do and have helped.
3. Don’t be a product-pusher
No one likes a guy or girl who attends events to purely push their product or service. It is such a turn off!! Networking events may result in leads after you have made the effort to build a meaningful relationship. It should never be used to directly sell or promote
4. A man walks into a bar……
Jokes are fun but don’t push it too far. People remember jokes more than any other content that you may tell them. So if it’s offensive, any positive conversation you have had up to this point negates this contact. God knows I’ve been on the receiving end of a few jokes that then made me think – no you are a tool and I now don’t want to work with you. Because it shows more of who you are and how you behave.
5. Look at me look at me……
You may have been the class clown or Mr and Miss popular at school but people don’t always want to hear about you. Show some interest in others, what they do, where there are from. You never know what you might learn or what they can do for you
6. It’s not Tinder Live
Yes that right! I know we spend a lot of time at work events but a networking event is not a pick up joint especially around xmas time. Be careful as once you cross that professional line – it’s hard to go back. Or maybe if you are lucky enough to find Mr or Mrs right – be sure it doesn’t jeopardies long term business relations
If you still find networking tough then practice. It’s as simple as that, however here are a few icebreakers you can never go wrong with:
- Where are you from?
- What brings you here?
- Did you travel far today?
- Why has this event interested you?
- Sports – although currently I probably wouldn’t mention the Ashes to a Pom. Come on Aussies….
- As Crowded house would say – “everywhere you go always take the weather with you” Especially in the UK everyone loves a good chin wag about the weather.
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