Networking. The word alone is enough to strike terror in the heart of many people. Yet it’s an activity which many people in the world of business, particularly the PR sector, need to carry out. Want to expand your contacts? Win new business? Gain new ideas? Bag a new job? Impress the boss? You need to network.
Put simply, networking is about meeting new people and having a conversation. Sounds simple, eh? One of the factors that puts people off networking is that it can often seem contrived. Even the word ‘networking’ sounds formal and joyless. How about ‘biz boosting’ or ‘contact creating’?
Next time you’re tasked with press the flesh at a biz boosting – sorry, networking – event, consider Clareville’s top tips for success:
1. Be interested in other people – ask questions. It’s obvious, we know, but people find it easy to talk about themselves. However, think carefully about what questions you ask! Chances are that by the end of an event, people have talked about their day to day job role countless times. Try something different. Why did they choose that career? What are the challenges?
2. This links to the previous point. When you receive an answer to your question – listen! You’re more likely to see results if you engage and follow up on what’s being said rather than greeting replies with a far away stare.
3. Never dismiss anyone as ‘not relevant to my business’ – they may have a contact who is just the person you need to speak to.
4. Look for ways to help others. Would it help them to speak to someone you know? If you help someone else they will remember you and wish to return the favour. Build up trust by following up on this promptly.
5. Research and be fully aware of what you want to achieve by networking. Then you will not appear too vague, and can steer the conversation in the right direction for you, whether that’s scouting for a mentor, or finding out specific information about a company.