Networking is one of the most popular vehicles to build connection and promote engagement and in Australia there is an overwhelming number of events where this opportunity is provided to you. However as frequently happens we often get caught up in the event and don’t treat the opportunity to network with the respect it deserves.
Having attended a number of events and conferences over the past few months, including a trip to Dallas to attend FinCon 2017, I witnessed first-hand events that provided a great platform for true networking. At FincCon, a conference focusing on where media meets money, I politely asked “Is this seat taken?” and introduced myself as Jenny a Business and Marketing consultant based in Australia who niches in working i Financial Services. My intention was to merely start a conversation, the questions and discussion flowed from there. I came away from that experience with not only a number of new connections but also the opportunity to share intelligence that would help me improve my business.
However, an event alone cannot provide you with a great networking experience. It is also your willingness to be open to a positive interaction; so what should you be tapping into?
Personality Traits for Networking:
- Socialisation – extrovert or introvert you need to be able to use your inner personality to attract and connect in conversation.
- Leadership – tap into your leadership skills and showcase what you champion and use your influencer skills to be positive and interact.
- Emotional Intelligence – identify and manage emotional states in yourself and the people you are engaging.
Our ability to leverage each of these traits will allow us to impact at an event and negate any discomfort you may feel about entering a room full of strangers. Remember what you put into a networking opportunity is also what you will get out of it. Think you are awesome at networking but perhaps don’t have the most positive experiences to support it? Here are some great do’s and don’ts to help you.
- Preparation can help overcome anxiety. Get a list of attendees, do some research on those you want to meet beforehand and read up on recent news and events.
- Think positively and relax. Remember the worst case scenario of a networking event is not that bad.
- Make the aim of the event helping others and making connections. Humans are social creatures and we herd together for mutual benefit. If someone helps us, we feel bound to repay the favour.
- Be prepared to admit that you don’t know anyone and be open to revealing shortcomings, it will show your authenticity.
- Talk about yourself all night. No one wants to listen to the self-obsessed.
- Hand out business cards without good reason. “Take my card” is a cliché, only hand them to people you want to meet again or better still connect online through your virtual profiles.
- Forget to listen. Showing interest in others is key as it makes the speakers feel good and enables us to learn.
- Remain in a huddle with people you know. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone but you will not make new contacts.
- Forget to follow up. If you say you are going to call then you should.People respect those who are true to their word.
Not everyone is hardwired to walk into a room, take a seat and start a conversation so don’t feel that your networking opportunities are over. There are great ways to engage with people through online platforms and via social media that allow you to still be authentic but minimise the discomfort of face to face interaction.
As you accept your next event invitation, register for a conference or participate in a webinar do so with the knowledge that networking is not a dirty word and that you are more than capable of taking a seat at the table.
Take a look at the personality traits and see where your strengths and weaknesses are and find a networking buddy that can support you in the areas that you need help with. Find the forum that works for you and practice and refine your skills there. As you become more confident then you can venture into new environments to grow and learn.
And finally, keep your story simple and be yourself, law of attraction will present opportunities to you.
Good luck and I look forward to meeting you!