I recently ran a one-day SheSays Brighton event and at the after-party, someone said to me: “I normally don’t like networking, but today I’ve made so many new friends and connections”. Obviously, she was doing something right, because that is the point of networking!
Networking is an important skill that can help you to build relationships, find new opportunities, and advance in your career. But it can be daunting to go into a room with strangers and be confident talking to people when you’re feeling nervous.
Here are some tips to help you network effectively:
- Be genuine: When networking, it’s important to be authentic and genuine. Build relationships based on shared interests and common goals, rather than just trying to make contacts. Find common connections.
- Target loners: if you see someone on their own, go up and introduce yourself, they will be relieved you spoke to them – remember everyone is nervous at events.
- Collect contacts: Use social media to connect with people in your industry. LinkedIn is a great platform for professional networking, do it straight away before you forget. You’ll also see immediately if you have mutual contacts.
- Prepare your pitch: When someone asks you, ‘what do you do?’ have a clear answer especially if you are looking for work or have a business.
- Listen actively: When you’re networking, it’s important to listen actively and engage in meaningful conversations. Show a genuine interest in others and ask questions to learn more about their experiences and interests. Don’t look over their shoulder for someone more exciting.
- Follow up: After meeting new people, follow up with them to stay in touch. You can send an email, connect on LinkedIn, or schedule a follow-up meeting.
- Offer to help: When networking, offer to help others in your industry, or even help with the event itself. Being a volunteer can be a great way to meet new people. This can help you to build valuable relationships and can lead to new opportunities in the future.
- Start your own event or group: I started SheSays Brighton because I couldn’t find a group for me. Now there are lots of groups for women in business. Create the vibe and structure you want or can’t find.
Networking is a long-term process that requires patience and persistence. Build relationships, attend events, and stay engaged with your industry to build a strong professional network. Networking definitely gets easier the more events you go to. It could start to feel more natural and even fun!
If you’d like help with building your network or building your confidence, book a call today.