There are networking opportunities in all facets of our daily lives, including our religious groups, hobbies, and community involvement. However, it is the dedicated professional networking events that can be most important in your overall career management.
There is an art to being a successful networker, and it’s imperative that you give more than you receive. That way, you boost your reputation to many around you as you share ideas and leads.
It all starts with introductions
One way to give is to be a facilitator of introductions, by connecting someone with a person who would be a useful resource for them, or even better, matching two people who can help one another.
The more networking events you attend, the easier this can be, as your database grows over time. Do be careful, though, when introducing someone to one of your leads, because if that person isn’t of the caliber assumed, your brand with the other person could be at stake.
In introducing yourself to a new contact, be eloquent and confident, and articulate a clear and precise message about who you are and what you do. Avoid long words or a diatribe. Keep it memorable and resonating.
For some, a networking meeting can be a very lonely event. I have seen many people just wander around alone, looking terribly uncomfortable with the situation. Be bold and approach these people. Initiate warm and friendly conversation to encourage further communication and diminish their reticence to network.
Sometimes the best way to help others network is to participate in running a networking group by volunteering for the executive committee. Or if there isn’t a pertinent networking event in your geographic area or industry, why not start one yourself?
Taking on these leadership roles speaks volumes to your peers about the hard skills and soft skills you bring to your career and your next executive appointment.
Look to the stage
Speakers are often the draw to attract an audience and networking with these individuals can be very beneficial in your education, career, and personal development.
Be respectful and courteous when speakers are on the stage, by not interrupting their speech with conversation at your table, rattling your cutlery, or using your smartphone. Listen with a purpose, and when the time comes for Q & A, ask some thought-provoking questions that you think others around you would like answered.
Inquire with the group’s organizers as to how speakers are selected for their events. Presenting from the stage is a highly effective way to promote your thought leadership and personal brand, while giving value to the audience and supporting the group’s mandate.
We are all considered experts in our areas. Share your expertise, time and skills with others to make networking work for you.