Spring is in the air and we’re all reaching out more. The days are becoming longer with lighter mornings and lighter evenings. Spring is a great time to network, share things that are new and inspiring, there’s so much to talk about at Spring time!
I’ve been networking across north Wales for over 25 years and I’m asked regularly for networking tips, today I’m sharing some of my favourite ones.
However, my number one tip of all time is ‘Get out there’, whether you believe you’re a good networker or not – just ‘get out there and meet people’.
‘Let the Magic Happen’
The best piece of advice I was given was about 25 years ago, which completely changed my attitude to networking, don’t go into a room full of strangers thinking – ‘What can I get out of this?’ But instead, think: ‘What can I offer?’ It changed my mindset from taking to giving with a spirit of generosity and that’s when the magic happened for me!
‘It’s better to have a diverse network than a large network’
If you only network within your own social group or your business industry, it’s easy to become insular and blinkered. Attend events with a ‘social feel’ that guarantee you’ll meet new people and attend well planned networking events organised by someone who specialises in connecting people. Stay open-minded, enjoy new experiences and watch your diverse network grow!
Be the ‘Go To Networker’
Don’t be the ‘needy networker’- Be the ‘go to networker’. Attending regular networking events and building on relationships with like minded people will help you to become the individual others go to when they need something. That might mean some general advice or connecting them with an acquaintance. Fundamentally, it feels good to give, be a giver.
If the thought of networking strikes fear in your heart, or you look forward to it like a trip to the dentist, then you’re not alone! Embrace networking with a positive attitude and a genuine curiosity and you’ll soon realise that it truly works. Networking may or may not lead directly to your dream customer, it may or may not land you the lucrative contract of your dreams, but in terms of support and inspiration, networking is invaluable.
‘Don’t just connect’
Build solid relationships over time. Don’t expect overnight miracles from networking. It takes time for people to develop confidence in you and you need to invest time in those relationships. Make friends and connect with people on a level other than business. As individuals, we bond through shared interests, no matter what they are. Perhaps there are other events you could attend together, business or social!
‘The memorable great handshake’
Do people judge us instantly from a handshake? Yes, definitely, all the time! Practice your handshake and become confident when greeting people. A firm, dry handshake with a steady gaze in their eye makes a great memorable handshake. Many years later I can remember people by their great handshake – and I’m not alone.
‘It’s Not a Competition’
Networking isn’t a competition. It’s not like the person who dies with the biggest collection of business cards wins. It’s quality not quantity. There’s absolutely no value in collecting stacks of business cards and hoarding them all in a box! Networking is about building real relationships, actively developing them and enjoying the rewards that enrich our lives.
‘Log your contacts the next day’
I read recently that at least half the people who exchange business cards never look at them again. From experience, I believe that’s a vast underestimate. Occasionally, they’ll ‘sort out’ their card collection by which time they can’t remember who that person was, or why they wanted that contact in the first place. Pre-schedule 30 minutes in your diary the next day after a networking event to follow up on contacts, to connect with them on social media and add them to your address book. Record as much detail as possible to help you remember.
‘A Networking Plan’
You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan right? Networking is a major business activity so why would you network without a networking plan? People who say that networking doesn’t work or that networking is a waste of time and money, means only one thing to me, they don’t know how to network. Planning saves you time, energy and money. Plan where to network and who with, find out who the speakers are, find out who else is attending, check out the venue, check the cost of attending against value for money, research the host and look at the success of the group. A little research and planning before an event will help spare you the discomfort of anxiety and the fear of the unknown.
Networking Guru and Founder of Mingle for Business