Most people however, won’t see it this way, if you’re one of the many people who cringe at the thought of networking you’ll probably just see the work Christmas do as a chance to let your hair down. While it is a time for fun and festivities, the value of networking is greatly underestimated and you’ll be missing out if you don’t take advantage of the abundance of opportunities that the Christmas period presents you with, here’s some bitesize networking tips to help you make the most of the festive season.
So why do we hate networking? The answer – because we’re not very good at it. Most of us don’t like making conversation with new people, we find it difficult to talk about ourselves as we don’t want to come across as bragging or boastful. Learning the techniques of good networking will help you to overcome your fears.
Networking Tips – How To Network effectively :
1. How do I Introduce myself?
When approaching new people if you appear calm and confident you will put your conversation partner at ease which will help them to open up to you. Produce your hand to shake theirs and pronounce your name clearly while making eye contact. Relax, be present, hear their name and what they say. Repeat their name back to them and ask open ended questions to engage them in conversation. If you are left to open, say something interesting about yourself that opens up a good conversation. Try to be more stimulating than just talking about the weather, tell a short anecdote or funny story that will get people to warm to you.
3. How do I join a group of people that are already engaged in a conversation?
One of the hardest things about entering a room where you are supposed to talk with people you don’t know is approaching groups who are already talking. Look for people who are on their own because they will be more open and will appreciate your efforts.
If there are only groups talking, look for the openings. Often there will be spaces for you to join in, especially in twos and threes. Any group larger than three will often be closed and therefore hard to approach. Enter the conversation by saying who you are and use a light opener – ask how they know each other. This respects the fact that they are already talking and indicates that you want to join. Smile and be courteous, this is a good time to be humble without being shy. Show that you are listening, interested and paying attention.
3. How do I get myself noticed without sounding arrogant?
Most people find it pretty difficult to talk about themselves and their achievements in a positive way. We are taught to be humble and modest and often when we observe other people who do talk about themselves we perceive them as showing off. We often shy away from talking about ourselves as we don’t want to be seen to be blowing our own trumpet but there are ways to get around this.
First of all, finding advocates is a great way to get people talking about you and what you do. We are far better at selling other people and their achievements than we are at doing it for ourselves. Try to find people who you trust to talk about you in a positive light with the right people. They will show others how you are working and that you are doing a great job. The payoff for them is that they get to look good by being positive about you and maybe you believe in them too and will return the favour.
Secondly, find things you have done that have made a difference and emphasise how they have helped without being specific about your role in the project. When you talk about it you can show details that only someone very close to the process would know, indicating your involvement without bragging. By giving these interesting insights, statistics and knowledge then people will use this in other meetings which will reflect well on you.
4. How do I exit a conversation?
Sometimes people feel guilty about leaving conversations and have to excuse themselves to get away. People often use an excuse such as “I’m going to get another coffee” or “I’m going to the toilet” or “I must go and speak to that person” but the best way of leaving a conversation is to be honest.
If you want to talk again give your contact details and tell them that you are going to meet some more people. If you don’t want to talk again then be polite and say that you are going to network with some more people and it was great to meet them.
Another way to move on is to bring someone else into the conversation and then leave them to make the connection together. This is known as park and ride and if you watch effective networkers they are very good at moving through the room making connections between people.
5. How do I follow up?
It’s great to practise your networking skills and get comfortable talking to new people but the benefits of networking come from keeping in touch. If you want to leverage the interaction you’ve had at a networking event, it is important to follow up. The best thing to do is to make a note of when you met someone and when you said you’d get back in touch so that you don’t forget. It’s best to follow a 3-day rule and follow up within the next 3 days so that it doesn’t become awkward and they remember who you are and what you talked about.
If you’re interested in taking your learning further you can now purchase our Networking & Personal Brand eLearning bundle. Turbocharge life’s opportunities with a vibrant identity and personal brand. This bundle of courses will teach you how to best manage your existing network and make the most of new networking opportunities.