Don't be scared by the networking revolution
For women, over the last couple of years, there has been a boom in networking groups and clubs, both on and offline. But networking for the first time can be a daunting task for many. The idea that we need to be aggressive sales machines is not what networking is about, it is about building trust, making connections and being part of a wider network.
For those of you taking your first steps, here are some key tips on how to get started in the wonderful world of networking.
Not all networking groups are created equal: There are lots of groups out there; find the right one for you. Whether it is networking over breakfast or a massive group of 100 people in a room. You know what will work for you.
Know your 60-second pitch: You shouldn’t need 20 minutes to explain what you do, 60 seconds should be more than enough time to summarise what you do. Make that minute count! Practice makes perfect.
Don’t do all the talking: People like to tell you about what they do, ask them questions, keep them open ended. It’s important that you take time to get to know the person you are talking to. Who could make their business better, why did they start their business, what’s their ideal customer? But remember, it's a conversation, not an interview.
Do your research: A lot of good networking events will send out the attendance list before the networking session. Take time to have a look at the list, make contact before the event with people you would like to talk to. This also helps with the first time nerves if you can recognize faces and know what they do.
Find experienced part time or flexible staff today. View our latest recruitment offer.
Be a social butterfly: It is important that you get a chance to meet with plenty of different people. Now I am not saying rush, as there is nothing worse than talking to someone who spends the whole time looking over your shoulder, but after 10 minutes you should both be ready to move onto meeting the next person.
Be ready to give: Networking is about connecting people and not only those people in the room. Be the person that fixes a problem for someone, if you cant fix it, but know someone who can, then pass the information on. This way you will build trust and be remembered.
Make a commitment: Networking is about building long term relationships. It is highlight unlikely that you are going to go to one event and people trust you enough to refer lots of work to you. So go regularly and see your network grow.
Don’t forget to follow up: The step that is often missed the most. Don’t sit back and wait for people to follow up with you. Send them an email, give them a call, find them on social media and follow them. Arrange a one to one over coffee. And if you have promised them information, then get it sent out to them within the week. Make sure you maximise on that first impression.
Enjoy it: As women, we are good at building relationships, so use all the confidence you can muster and enjoy networking. And for those of you who can feel their knees knocking at just the mention of networking, I give you one bonus tip, fake it until you make it! No one will know you are nervous if you put those shoulders back, breathe deeply and smile!
*Katie Rishi is the training director and NLP coach at Cetas Kinetic, a training consultancy offering support and guidance on a range of topics, helping you be the very best business you. You can go to the website and sign up free to Ten:10; it delivers 10 personal development tips to your inbox every Tuesday before 10am!