Five Good Habits to Help You Network Like a Pro
Here at 99 City Road we get to see thousands of people coming through our doors every year for a day to network
with their industry peers. There are some who float through networking events exuding charm and confidence, scattering and collecting business cards as they go, and loving every minute of it. But for most we see, networking events aren’t their natural habitat.
However, even those of us who are naturally quiet can come away from business events with a sense of achievement – and with some useful connections made.
Of course, the first thing to remember when you are having a conversation with someone at an event is that you are simply having a conversation with someone – in the same way you have a conversation with colleagues at work, with friends on a night out, or with a stranger in a queue. There is no reason a networking conversation should feel staged or awkward.
However, in order to get the most out of networking, it makes sense to use your time wisely. As conference and events organisers we host scores of networking events, and we see many savvy networkers in action. Here are our top tips for success:
Have a plan
Decide what you want to achieve at this event. Do you want to make a connection with someone in particular? Do you want to let people know about a new service or product you offer? Are you hoping to make contacts in a new geographic area?
Make sure you know who is going to be at your event and think about how you can approach them in order to meet your objectives.
Talk it through
While the conversations you have should be natural and unforced, there is nothing wrong with practising your all-important introduction before you get there. Don’t feel you have to cram your work history into three lines of rushed dialogue, but think about three key points you would like people to know about you – try to frame these points in way that piques people’s interest and prompts them to want to find out more.
As any therapist will tell you, the key to any successful relationship – and this includes working relationships too – is listening. Think carefully about what the other person is saying, rather than just waiting for them to finish their sentence before diving in with your own pitch. Be seen to listen too – so nod, smile, laugh when appropriate and respond in a way that shows your appreciation for what they are bringing to the table.
If you are willing to be generous with your own expertise and advice, you are much more likely to make meaningful connections. Nobody want to be around someone with a ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude. And helping others with advice they find valuable does much to show where your strengths are, which makes you an attractive and memorable part of the networking circle.
Sound relationships need a little work and some time investment, so don’t just slip those business cards into your top daw and forget about them. When you return to the office, make contact with the other attendees on Linkedin, drop an email to anyone you had an interesting conversations with and thank them for their insights. Let them know you will share details of their product launch/workshop/service with your own network, and do so.