Networking Successfully (Even If You Hate It)

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In this day and age where we rely heavily on social media and an online presence, I believe there is one marketing tool no business minded individual can do without.

This is the approach taken at networking events — A powerful tool to promote your image and develop your brand.

To convey in a few words what networking is about, I will quote Maya Angelou who stated:

I’ve learnt that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

This is the underlying message that needs re-enforcing. Essentially if people feel great around you they will want to buy your product, hire your service or recommend and refer you to someone else — This is even before attempting to put across your sales pitch.

The Business Network SW Journal run a survey on why people attend networking events;

85% of the people who responded gave the following insightful statistic:

  • 45% used networking as a way to sell their product or service.
  • A staggering 95% used it to build relationships.
  • 80% of users were using it as a business development tool.

If you hate networking, you might feel that on some level you need to suspend your true self and develop the sales approach by being wired into a ‘selling mode’. This feels inauthentic. In fact the truth is it’s just the opposite, it’s about sharing, collaboration, connection and building relationships.

There’s nothing to fear or hate, it’s simply building relationships, not selling.

Navigating through an event attempting to sell yourself and taking a limited interest in others is not a clever way to make yourself memorable for the right reasons (however much you detest the process). I encounter a significant number of individuals networking in this way in almost every networking event I have attended.

There is nothing more unattractive than someone talking incessantly about themselves, interrupting what you say and clearly not listening or taking any interest in you.

The best part of networking is keeping in touch and staying connected with others you have met to bounce off ideas, do a collaborative piece of work or to simply become connected because you truly value their work and the message they convey.

Here are 8 ways to navigate any networking event:

Obtain profiles of attendees:

Networking events generally have a list of their attendees on their website. Prepare before the event by familiarising yourself with the attendees. This allows you to introduce yourself and make conversation, as you have prepared information about them and their industry beforehand.

Ask for their business card first:

This allows you to create a dialogue and ask questions about what they do, before handing yours.

Take an interest in the person you’re speaking to:

This essentially means pay attention, make eye contact, reflect and mirror back what they say and stay focused.

Become memorable by impacting the person you speak to:

Demonstrate you’re paying attention by discovering their challenge, you might even be able to give them tools, advice, or recommendations. This is about contributing and will take you to the next level of building a relationship.

Ask who you could introduce them to:

This is part of giving value at an event. It shows you’re taking an interest in the other person, that you’re willing to connect them with someone by making an introduction. It shows you’re a giver, not a taker.

Arrive early and stay late:

This is a great way to maximise your networking opportunity by speaking to people. I actually find that the most important discussions happen after the event when everyone seems more relaxed.

Networking is a professional exchange:

This is not the time to bring your personal life, personal problems or issues. This is about giving others a taste of what working with you would be like.

Give value:

The most important part of the networking process is to give value by staying in touch immediately after the event. This might mean sending them an article related to something you were speaking about, or connecting them with someone who could help them. This will ensure you are still memorable and it’s a great way to build on the connection you created at the event.

We can learn so much from Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, who has been dubbed ‘the world’s best networker’. She stated the following; “The best networkers are people who start by seeing what they can give to someone, It’s not because you want something back, but because you want to help — it’s a state of offering.”

To rock any networking event, you need to develop a value in others and demonstrate this through your way of being. Show they matter to you. This provides an ongoing opportunity to expand the relationships you create.

Networking is simply an exchange of giving and receiving value as well as an opportunity to raise your visibility without hiding behind the social media and online mask.

If this article has awakened your interest or you feel someone could benefit from it, please share. If you would like to connect or share your experience, please contact me directly via micheleattiascoaching@gmail.com or visit my websitewww.micheleattiascoaching.com

Originally published at /blog/networking-successfully-even-if-you-hate-it.