Networking – Quality not quantity
It is very easy to think that networking means knowing as many people as possible and being in constant touch with them. However, that can be very time-consuming and counterproductive. What people need to do, says Jennifer Logue, executive vice president and head of training service for Working Voices, is to make sure they are focusing on fostering the right relationships. “It is important to remember that you are talking about quality relationships,” she says.
It can be hard for people who are new to a company or a new role to know who the right people are. In this situation, the best policy is to take it slowly and concentrate on those social opportunities that come recommended or look the most promising.
Networking Opportunities at Christmas
With the festive season fast approaching, Christmas parties are likely to be occurring and this is an excellent opportunity to hone your networking skills. For some, it’s something they dread but treat it like an opportunity to practice your networking business skills and it can be a lot of fun.
A great question our trainers often get asked is – how do people actually network? What skills and attributes does it take to forge good connections? Can those skills and attributes be learnt and developed? The answer is that some people are naturals, while others have to work at it. And yes, networking is an art that can be practiced and improved.
Just remember, what is fine in one social circle may not be so appropriate for another.
What is a good networker?
Good networkers tend to be people who are interested in others and like hearing what they have to say. “Someone who is a good networker is very interested in people,” says Logue. “They want to show goodwill.”
Jay Rhoderick, a US trainer at Working Voices, agrees that being interested in others and their stories is a key skill. “It’s about presenting yourself as interested rather than interesting,” he says.
It is most definitely not about me, me, me. Those kinds of networkers quickly get a bad reputation and alienate people. Creating a strong, cohesive social web is about connecting with people, sharing ideas and experiences, gaining solutions to problems and offering solutions to problems. It’s about giving favours and receiving favours. It has to be a two-way process.
A lot of this comes down to basic good manners – remembering names, giving people the opportunity to talk and listening properly to what they have to say, for example.
It is also about being proactive – people knowing what they want and need from their contacts and who might be able to help. Being proactive is very different to being pushy, however. People need to be sensitive to other people’s reactions and preferences and be able to read situations. No-one likes to feel like they are being tapped for information or pushed for favours. Skillful communicators make sure they don’t crowd people out or overdo it. Some relationships are slow burners and build up over time.
Top Networking Tips For You To Use
At the end of the day, good networking is largely about good communication and listening skills. Get those two bits right and the rest should fall into place.
Tom Cassidy, EMEA trainer at Working Voices, has five tips to share:
- The number one thing is the ability to simply be present. People need to be aware of what is going on around them, aware of situations as they arise and able to read situations and be flexible.
- Listening is a very good life skill. Good networkers listen well and remember names, details and information.
- Storytelling is important – the ability to tell interesting stories in an interesting way gets peoples and keeps peoples attention.
- Preparation and experience. The more experienced, practiced and prepared people are the better they perform.
- Sitting down and reviewing your Networking every once in a while. Where is my network? Is it working? Am I making an impact?
The biggest step is just doing it, have a conversation with someone you don’t yet know and make an effort to be interested and engaged and before you know it you’ll be networking like a pro and also having some fun too. Check out Paul Hills video below that offers some acitve listening tips to help boost your business networking as well.