Networking

Networking 101: Putting it all in to practice

Networking 101: Putting it all in to practice

Tuesday, 05 March 2019

Give before you ask. Make yourself relatable. Show new connections that you’ve really listened to them. All great advice – such great advice, in fact, that some of the world’s most connected networkers put these principles at the heart of their own drive to boost their contact books.

 

In this final edition of our Networking 101 series, we look at how successful women from around the world have honed their art using the tips from our series – real life role models for making them work in practice. 

 

THE NETWORKING MUSCLE BUILDER

Very few enjoy the idea of delivering an elevator pitch to stranger after stranger at a networking event. But therein lies one of the biggest myths about networking – that it happens in one kind of way, at formulised events designed for that purpose.

As we highlight in part one of our series, Getting the thinking right, by moving away from those negative clichés, your network can go from strength to strength. 

To ensure she approaches formal events with the right mentality and with her skills sharpened and ready to go, Jacqueline Whitmore, author of Poised For Success, finds opportunities to network in her everyday life – from walking the dog to boiling the kettle.

“If I'm heading to the water cooler and I see somebody I know, I might stop for a minute or two and ask that person 'How is your day going? How was your weekend?' just to stay in that networking practice," she tells inc.com.


THE RELATIONSHIP MASTERMIND

You probably know people who send out impersonal LinkedIn invitation requests in a bid to win that magic 500+ connections label. But what does a bulging contacts book mean if it’s not backed up by solid relationships with peers you can reach out to when you need them?  

Taking a strategic approach to who you engage with is a tactic we suggest in part two, Growing your contacts list. It’s one Kim Marie Branch-Pettid, CEO and president of LeTip International has finessed through practice.

 

“Immediately following a conversation with a person of interest, Branch jots down a number from 1 to 10 on the back of their business card, indicating their potential to help her advance in her career,” her secret is relayed in Forbes. 

 

“For anyone who scores a seven or above, she adds a brief note about them, such as ‘trip to London, 3-year-old son, starting a new job’. The next day, Branch sends an email to the person, saying that she enjoyed the conversation, and references one of her notes, like ‘Have a great time in London!’

Finally, she assists in some way, by sending a link to an interesting London travel article or offering to introduce the person to a friend who works at the same company they just joined.


THE STORYTELLER EXTRAORDINAIRE

We’ve all that that eyes-glossing over experience of asking someone what they do and then hearing them talk – at length – about their roles and responsibilities.

 

In part three of our series, Creating a winning elevator pitch, we highlighted the need for being able to communicate your work and your passions in a way that engages others.

Telling stories so that others can relate to you and your ambitions is a great way to stay memorable – and one that Hillary Clinton put to good use when she joined the professional network, LinkedIn. 

“When I was growing up, my father owned a small business,” she writes on her profile. “And when I say small, I mean small: It was my father and an occasional day labourer.

“We were an all-hands-on-deck operation, guided by my father’s belief that if you worked hard and did what you were supposed to do, opportunities would be there for you.

“That’s the spirit that got Americans through the Great Recession. And as we come back from the crisis, potential new business owners and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley to Des Moines to Brooklyn are ready to seize the moment.

All they need are policies that help them get ahead instead of holding them back. That’s why I want to be a small business president.”

In these short paragraphs, Clinton positions herself as someone who supports entrepreneurship at grass roots, by telling stories from both her own childhood and the history of the country she hopes to govern – a much stronger hook on which to hang her core principles than if she’d just bullet pointed her policies. 


THE BIG TALKER

Very few people enjoy small talk – most of us want to have memorable conversations that enrich our days. In part four of our series, How to shine at an event, we looked at some of the strategies you can employ to showcase your best self. 

For introverts like Susan Cain, founder of the Quiet Revolution, there’s one sure-fire - if a little unexpected - way to shatter ice and head straight to big talk territory:

“Shy people will be surprised to hear this, but it’s much easier to attend a networking event if you’re the one giving the speech,” she writes in her blog. “Once you step off stage, everyone knows you. Even more, they know just how to start a conversation with you!

You don’t have to give a grand keynote to make this work. Volunteer to give a short five-minute talk during a low-key breakout session at the next gathering you attend, and watch how it breaks the ice.”


THE FOLLOW-UP PRO

In part five of our series, Mastering the follow-up, we outlined the importance of reaching out to new connections on a regular basis.

Taking five minutes to remind a newcomer to your circle why you’re someone worth getting to know can mean the difference between a drawerful of business cards and a meaningful roster of contacts you can do business with. 

Josephine Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black's Organic Chocolate, knows that it’s easy to let following-up fall by the wayside. So whenever she’s adding a networking event to her calendar, she also slots in a post-event half hour for reaching out to those she wants to foster friendships with.

“I'd estimate that at least half the people who exchange business cards never look at them again,” she writes in a column for The Telegraph.

“That's probably a vast underestimate. Occasionally they'll feng shui their handbags - by which time they can't remember who that person was, or why they wanted that contact for in the first place. 

“Pre-schedule 30 minutes in your diary the morning after a networking event to follow up on contacts and add people to your address book, recording as much detail as possible. I learned from my husband (American, networks like a pro) to write on the back of that card what that person does, or what I promised to do for them.”

 

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