WHY BOTHER TO NETWORK?
Whether you work for an established company or a start-up, the world is fast paced and keeps on changing – therefore we need to keep adapting. With so much social media activity online, deeper relationships and strong networks matter. As part of any business growth strategy, people need to know who we are and what we can do for them before they decide to buy our products or services.
Who you know is just as important as what you can do, if not more so. Yet in order to cultivate our network and maintain it we need to do something called “networking”! That word conjures up less than positive images for many and not without good reason – there’s too much focus on surface level networking and building a database just for the sake of it. We’ve all experienced events at which the fast talker works the room, handing out business cards without spending any time to get to know people. No wonder then that networking events can seem inauthentic and fake, putting people off.
So why would you bother?
Well, when approached in the right way, networking can bring interesting people into our lives and present wonderful opportunities to cultivate professional relationships that can help with:
- Connecting you to a mentor/mentee
- Gathering industry Intel
- Facilitating opening doors/introductions/referrals
- Getting support and advice
- Creating lasting relationships and building allies
These are just a few reasons to take up opportunities to “network”. Think of it as intelligent network building helping you to stack the odds in your favour. The mind-set and skills involved can be learned by anyone – it just takes willingness and some investment of time that will pay dividends in the long run.
The best way to approach networking is to think of it in 3 parts:
Networking challenges people in different ways. For an introvert, the thought of entering a room full of strangers is daunting. Many don’t manage networking effectively even if they’re confident people. Preparation goes a long way to address both these issues.
To approach networking the right way involves some effort even before arriving at an event. It helps to have an overall strategy that fits in with your business goals. Where are you heading and who could help you get there? What are your objectives? Keep that at the back of your mind when considering whether to spend your valuable time at an event.
Take some time to research who else will be attending – is there a guest list, do you know the hosts or can Google help you out?! Understanding the types of attendees will help you plan topics for discussion as well as identifying specific people that would be good for you to speak to.
Mind-set is extremely important. If you think of networking as a chore and no fun then that is what you’ll probably experience. Instead think of it as an opportunity to begin building lasting relationships. Most likely, many others in that room are feeling awkward too – your attitude can have a positive effect on the interactions you’ll have.
Visualisation is a simple yet very powerful technique. Our minds can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination. This is something that sports men and women use all the time – a sprinter will visualise a race hundreds of times before getting to the start line. A golfer will visualise the shot and flight path before actually swinging the club. This concept can be applied to any situation. Imagine an enjoyable event going really well with good conversations and interesting people. Put yourself in the scene looking through your own eyes – make the images vivid with as much detail as possible. What do you hear and feel? Now turn the intensity of all those senses up. You can do this any time any place.
Business Growth Partner Jay Surti is a Speaker, Author of Authentic Business Presenter and an NLP Trainer who works with Business Leaders helping them improve their presentation and speaking skills. Connect with Jay: @authenticspeak @Advantage_BP
In Part 2 we will cover how to tackle the actual event and the all important follow-up.