11 Feb How to be a stellar networker in 2016
Networking. For the chatterboxes out there, it’s second nature. But for everyone else, the mere mention of the word sets the heart racing. We know just how crucial networking is – no matter how frightening it may seem! That’s why we’re sharing our top tips on how to lift your networking game in 2016.
It’s time to breathe a sigh of relief, because networking is not as scary or as difficult as it may seem. And you can rest assured that as the business owner, it’s not your sole responsibility to network!
The good news is that every member of your team can take initiative and get involved with bringing business to your business. But in order to ensure your team comprises of some of the best networkers around in 2016, it’s important to learn the tricks of the trade back to front and inside out.
So how do you improve your networking skills? Firstly, have a plan
Identify what your goal is. Be sure to look at the purpose and the outcomes you are seeking to achieve.
From there, identify the ‘who’ – who do you need in your internal network? Cover off strategic, operational and personal connections. Then move afield to who you need in your external network. Remember, you can only identify the correct people if you know what your goal is.
Networking is fundamentally about your interactions with connections. You therefore need a plan on what you will do (both face to face and other) to leverage off existing opportunities or create new ones.
As networking is a skill that often isn’t initially very enjoyable, set yourself a deadline to ensure that you take action to make sure your networking activities are successful.
Secondly, develop the skills you need to be a great networker
- Be prepared – ensure you have plenty of business cards, wear your name tag, and practice your introduction.
- Be a giver and a connector – networking is about providing value to the other person, so ensure you leave your agenda at the door.
- Listen – pay attention and listen carefully to what the person is saying rather than focussing on your answer.
- Don’t sell – no one likes a pushy sales pitch, so save that for the appropriate time after the relationship has been well established.
- Follow up – do what you say you are going to do. If you promise to follow up (and you should) then make sure you do so. Send a thank you, an article, a contact – but don’t ask for anything in return!
Now that you know the ins and outs of networking, you’re all ready to go! So when you or one of your team members are at an industry event, forum or bump in to a possible contact on the street, take the opportunity to put your newfound networking knowledge into practice.