The following article aims to help us improve how we network, based on my own networking learning curve. Many introverts may still feel an urge to run, but this is a bid to make networking bearable, even enjoyable by getting others to reign in…
Don’t look past other people. You may be a seriously strategic thinker, on the hunt for your next prey, but every other probably worthy person you look past whilst you’re speaking with them, will sense that and feel, rightly, that they’d rather not meet with you. Again. Ever.
Resist the temptation to self-inflate. Am sure you get what that made-up term is trying to get across; – ‘bigging it up; beefing it up; going on a space-for-1 outta-my-way ego trip etc. Even if it’s nearly true, the others in this conversation will not really want to, nor benefit from, hearing it. Stick to who you are. Or improve on that if who you are is a self-inflater….
Avoid working the room. There may still be networking experts, traditional thinkers who think differently but trust me, the thing about working the room is that every human in the room knows they are being worked. Thinking about who you would like to meet in the room, and why they might like to meet you, is quite another thing and really rather more useful.
Steer clear of being a ‘now-in-over-drive’ networker. You can spot the signs, sweating, euphoria, want to meet everyone, hug everyone, eyes rolling, over-sharing, sweating more… OK, so this is an exaggeration but there is much said for taking discreet and frequent breaks during your networking event to catch your breath, take some notes and simply stop.
Never refuse to give your business card. Recently I met a senior manager from a monster-sized IT firm who boasted of doing this, for no real reason. Anyone who may have been their victims can feel thankful not to be in contact. They had the aura of someone who, as a child, had de-winged thousands of innocent creatures. Honestly if you don’t want to give out your card at a networking event then don’t attend.
Take heart in the fact that few of us always enjoy networking. It’s very term – net – with significations of catching something and working – which can be exhausting, somewhat defies enjoyment. Would re-naming it help? Probably not. Re-thinking it would.
Be yourself (unless you are someone who self inflates or who would refuse to give out their business card when asked to). You don’t have to make small talk – do ask about something that really interests you in the other person. (Within spitting distance of the boundaries of social conventions)…
Be open. Take breaks. Enjoy irrelevant (and better, irreverent) conversations. Yes, have goals, aims and aspirations but don’t follow them robotic-fashion. This is all about people. We are more likely to give business to the people we like, even if that happens a decade later.
It really is possible to enjoy networking more…if we all remember a healthy dose of helpfulness, humour and humanity does go an awful long way.
Like Learning Ltd