Networking – Doing it the right way

When we say network, network, network, we aren’t talking about NBN, VPN, Wireless or LAN… so if you need information on those types of networks – call our IT team.

We are talking about networking; the swapping of ideas and information among people with a common profession or special business interest.

 

How do you start networking?

Networking often starts with a single point of common interest, such as being in the same business industry or having thee same objective. So firstly, have a conversation and find out exactly what that common interest is with the people you’re meeting.

You also need to be a good listener – as I regularly tell my 3-year-old nephew ‘turn on your listening ears’ and really listen to what they’re saying. Listen, respond accordingly or ask questions, show sincere interest and contribute your own thoughts and ideas when appropriate. Our success in networking can depend on how well we listen and learn about other people and their common interests.

If you have a different set of ideas or interests to someone, maybe this particular person shouldn’t be a part of your immediate networking world – and that’s okay – just adopt the ‘let’s just be friends’ type mentality here.

 

Tell stories!

A good conversation is finding common ground and connecting with others on a personal level. Instead of spewing out jargon, facts and stats about what you do and your day to day operations #boring, try talking about actual events that have happened, real-life business stories; an obstacle you had to overcome or an awesome client you got to work with. These personal case studies will resonate and connect you with the listener on a personal level. They then get to know who you are, build trust in you as a person and may even want to collaborate with you in the future because they feel like they know you.

You can also chat about your family and what you get up to on the weekends, but perhaps steer clear of presenting them with a slideshow of your recent holiday - Couple’s Retreat anyone?

 

Collaborate to serve others

As a fellow networker, you have the ability to offer and contribute your expertise and advice, to help others in their business ventures. Being open to collaborations and offer your honest opinions and advice is a reason why they might mention you to their friends and family and come back for more. Which takes us to the next point…

 

Don’t expect something for something

When connecting with others, don’t expect them to purchase your service or buy your product. No one should feel obliged… that’s not why we network. There is usually a mutual understanding that both parties benefit from these networking connections, however you can’t force these things, they take time, days, weeks – even years!

 

Other tips on networking

  • Bring business cards. Don’t have them? Get them!
  • Say my name. No, don’t sing Destiny’s Child, just use their name – so they know you’ve been listening.
  • Shake hands. Simple yet effective – not too weak, not too strong – just right as Goldilocks would prefer, and so would the receiver of such a handshake.
  • Look people in the eye. Don’t be creepy, be interested.
  • .. but don’t be disturbing, be friendly and approachable.

 

Doing all this and feel like you’re not networking right? Keep trying, because no one ever got the look, smile, handshake combo right the first time.

 

Guess What Happened?

A real-life case study.

A coworker was working in our Leeder House offices and a friend of theirs popped in to say hello - let's call this friend Charlie. We proceeded to introduce ourselves and Charlie ended up knowing a business owner around the corner who we had considered getting in touch with for a whole other reason. Charlie ended up mentioning this to the business owner, who actively sought us out, and lead to one of our private offices being leased out indefinitely.

 

Apart from it being a very small world, this was a result of networking 101.

  • Charlie wouldn't have mentioned us if they didn't think we could mutually benefit from the relationship.
  • We were mentioned because we were trusted to be a quality contact.
  • We followed up by sending Charlie a thank you card.

 

Safe to say these connections will last a while, and who knows what these networks will bring in the future.

 

Happy networking, and feel free to join our next Leeder House members social event to try out your networking skills!

 

 

Written by Senior Marketing Consultant Jessica Blight at Harby Studios.

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