Oct 24, 2022 Vas Nair

Get Networking!

Intellectually, I think we all know the tremendous benefits of networking. However, many people also shy away, and don’t fully take advantage of it. There are a variety of reasons for it – ‘I don’t have the time.’; ‘I won’t know anyone there.’; ‘I feel uneasy in a crowd.’; ‘I won’t know what to say’.

Learning to get value from networking is core to being a successful professional. Aside from getting information from the people you meet; the occasion also allows others to get to know you. 

The reasons for networking can run the gamut from business improvement ideas, getting that next job, learning more about a topic, attracting talent, meeting the influencers, or staying on top of industry trends. So, get Networking Skills to the top of your professional development list if career progression or business development is your priority.

The shifts in the way we work today (thanks to Covid!) have broadened networking opportunities to include virtual events. Thankfully, in-person options are bouncing back to satisfy folks who have been craving the opportunity to socially graze.

As in-person networking can sometimes be uncomfortable, consider the following tips:

(If you’re uneasy about it, ask a colleague to join you. This will make it less uncomfortable. However, make sure that you’re meeting others and not huddled in a corner with your colleague!)

Plan for it – don’t simply turn up without knowing what the Agenda holds, what the target audience is and how much time you need to set aside. Since you’re making the investment, think beforehand about why this is important to you and what you hope to get out of it. 

Make a great first impression – with a strong introduction (yes, that elevator speech is important, so be well rehearsed!). If this is someone you want to follow up with, they need to remember you. Encourage them to ask questions about you and your business. Always have your contact details ready. 

Make connections – with the people you want to get to know. Ask questions about who they are and what they do. Listen and show interest in what they’re sharing. Take the opportunity to focus on them and find common ground. For instance, if they’ve just relocated, ask them how the assimilation into a new community is going. If you’re able to provide advice, ask if they need suggestions for activities, places to visit, restaurants, etc.

Add value – think about what you can offer to the people you’d like to stay connected with.  When they see that you’re genuinely trying to offer advice or discuss an idea, their interest in you will increase. This could result in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Make best use of the time – Depending on the event, you may not have a lot of time for deep conversations, so be selective about the people you spend time with. Politely exit to expand your network and move to the next person or group. Always get the contact information of the people you want to follow up with.

Stay in touch – be choosy about this. This process can take up a lot of your time, so reach out to the people who have something to share and those you’d like to help. It’ll be so much more rewarding when you’re part of a new relationship where both parties can benefit and flourish.

Learn from others – get insights from people who are seasoned at networking. Good networking is a learned skill that successful entrepreneurs and leaders leverage.  The more you practice, the greater your confidence will grow.

View networking as one of the many ways to get information. By starting with that simple purpose, it takes away the heavy burden or fear of networking. The next steps then involve preparing for it, being fully engaged, and following up. 

In mastering the art of networking, you’re sharpening skills such as effective listening, questioning,  thinking on your feet, relationship building, and being a strong follow-up artist. These are also life skills that will help you refine your presence both within and outside the work environment.

Giraffe HR App - Creators Vas Nair and Sobha Nair

Hi there!

We’re Vas and Sobha Nair, two sisters that have lived and breathed all aspects of human resources for over 50 years between us. Giraffe was born from our global experience coaching leaders and business owners navigate the same tricky workplace issues and discussions that you face. We know the best practices and proven processes that help turn workplace conflict on its head – and we want to share all of this and more with you in Giraffe.

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