Some of us love it, some of us it aren’t so keen, some of us know we should do more and some of us need a helping hand to get better at it.
We are talking about networking… an opportunity for like-minded professionals to come together, either physically or virtually, to share ideas and create new business opportunities.
There has been much written on this very topic – just search online and you’ll see much advice on it! Well not surprisingly so, we’ve been talking to a whole lot of people recently (yes, we’ve been networking to our heart’s content too) and we’ve taken this chance to highlight the best ideas on how to nail your networking skills.
As a result, we are happily sharing our top 5 networking tips for the week…
1. Remember one (just one) personal thing about someone you meet – how do you feel when someone remembers something about you? To genuinely ask and be interested in one small part of your life? Could be anything from house renovations; the dog’s name; a planned overseas trip; how many kids in the family; the health condition of a family member and the list goes on. This becomes a great conversation starter or email opener for the next time you meet.
2. Use different, creative or interesting business cards – look in your wallet or in your desk drawer… how many business cards stand out? If you are in the game of giving out cards, then take some time to create interesting ones – something that others will comment on and therefore something (and ultimately someone) they will remember! Consider colours; orientation; graphics; font sizes etc. Grab some inspiration from a graphic designer or even online if you need help. Hey, send a copy to us, we’ll happily tell you if it’s an eye-catcher!
3. Hook up – Networking has been taken to a whole new level via social and professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook etc. If you meet someone and you see benefit in building a professional relationship, then hook up (and by that we mean, follow their business Instagram or Facebook pages; ‘link in’ etc). Just make sure that you do it straight away!
Key factor: Not only do you need to make sure you have a photo for your profile on LinkedIn, but you also need to make sure that your photo and profile are genuine, current and professional (relative to your field of expertise). Avoid cropped or pixelated photos – remember it is your ‘brand’ you are representing!
4. Do your research – Still on the ‘linking in’ or sending an introductory email– if you haven’t actually met someone (yet you’ve been recommended, or you see a perceived benefit of hooking up), then do your research, look at their website and learn something about them before you send that invitation. If they don’t know you too well (or at all), send a little note with your invitation request, mentioning any common connections and why you want to connect with them. If they accept your request, and you haven’t received a reply to your attached note, then leave it for a short period and then send them a LinkedIn message, thanking them for connecting with you and include reference to who recommended you contact them.
5. When you say ‘let’s catch up for coffee’ – do it! Do it as soon as it would work for both of you. So many open ended ‘we should catch up’s’ in this world, and so many missed opportunities. You’ll soon know if there is a good professional relationship to build. It may not be now, it may be down the track. Let’s make sure you stay front of mind. And of course, we know you’ll open that coffee conversation with that one personal thing you remember about them!
So, off you go – pick one or a couple of these tips, network away, build those relationships and build those business networks. We’d love to hear which tips work for you…