Tuesday, 10 February 2015

10 Tips for Networking Success

This is part 3 in the series on Networking, as written by Dana Cooper, MBA, CAE (Executive Director, Orthotics Prosthetics Canada)

Prepare in advance.

Take some time before the event to understand what information would be valuable to you.  Objectives can include:

  • Finding others who have addressed issues you are currently facing;
  • Event experiences: conference locations, speakers, etc.;
  • Bring a question or two that you want to ask others;
  • Identify a position or an organization type you want to meet.
Have realistic objectives.

Ultimately, what you want to leave with are connections that can be valuable to you at some point in the future.  You should try to connect with several people during the course of the event.  You don't need the answers to your challenges during the networking...what you want is someone to connect with later to discuss their experiences.

Your challenges are likely not unique!

At your association events, attendees are in a room full of peers with a great deal in common.  While everyone thinks their organizations, members, issues and challenges are unique, it is very likely not the case.  There will be someone out there that can help.  They may not be at the event at that time, but there are people in attendance that can help make those connections.

Your challenges may not be unique...but you are!  Make it personal!

Don't just talk shop, talk about yourself.  There are many things that connect people to each other.  Ask questions of the other that are not work related.  Personal connections are the most powerful connections to make and will be much for memorable.  Encourage people to discuss something personal about themselves.  This is an area in which your association can facilitate networking.

Follow up after the event.

Contrary to days gone by where you had to organize business cards or record your connections to remember, today with have social media that helps us remember our connections and facilitate future communication.  Connect with your acquaintances on a social media platform.  Then when you are looking for resources, your social media connections should be the first source and a great memory cue for remembering the people we have connected with.

Have fun!

This is the fun part of the business!  This should not be terrifying!  This is not an "I HAVE to go to this event" this should be an "I GET to go to this event".  Networking in a room of people with much in common is low risk.  There should be no pressure.  It should be a forum to connect with people that may potentially be of value.

Look for ways to help others.

There are few better feelings than being able to assist someone with an issue or challenge.  Not only does it provide them with value, but it also confirms that you have value to provide to others.

Be a communication facilitator.

Be that person that brings the introverts into the conversations.  You can see the anxiety release from them and they become participants rather than bystanders.  It just takes that one effort to make them feel involved.

You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression.

As many people are at the event, there are that many different personalities.  Match your personality to those you are speaking with.  You don't want to scare people by being overly aggressive, you want to make connections with people that will want to converse with you again.  If you are bold, it is much easier for you to adjust your personality down in terms of energy and volume than it is for the timid to raise theirs to your level.

Be in the moment.

The key to communicating, remembering, and positively connecting is to pay attention and listen to what people are saying.  There are few things worse than being engaged in a one-on-one and the other person is looking around the room or over your shoulder at others.  Be conscious of where your attention is...and it should be on the individual or individuals you are currently engaged with.  Today we have many potential distractions, including the smartphone you carry.  Let calls go to voicemail.  When there is a break in the conversation, sneak away to a corner and check.

Stay tuned for the final instalment of this series; "Tips for Association Networking Sessions".

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1 comment:

  1. Here is addressed a crucial component of the success: "Having Fun". Networking is a task that every entrepeneur and businessman needs to do, it can get time-consuming really fast, for some people it could look like too much work; but with this approach, the whole proccess becomes less tedious.

    Even in the digital era we are living in, a physical business card can give a nice touch in a meeting or networking event. You can also put an e-mail and your LinkedIn profile so your prospect can get to you on the social media. This way you can get in touch while also giving a good impression to your prospects.

    Be careful, though, when including social media in your business card, it could get cramped! Here are some tips you should take in count when adding social media to your business cards