I am often asked, “what type of networking works best?” The answer is…None of them. It is the person that works best. You can join the best networking group in your area, loads of members, loads of work being done between them but if you are not the right person it will never work for you. The question should be “what type of person networks best?”
The person needs to be:
- Confident, or at least pretend to be. They need to be confident walking in the room, talking to people they don’t know and (knee’s shaking) being able to stand up and speak in front of a group.
- Organised. They need to know where they are going and turn up on time (if not early). They need to have business cards and diary with them etc. Most importantly they need to have thought about what they are going to say and even have something planned.
- Focused. Do they know why they are there and what they want to achieve? Raising awareness is not a good enough answer. What type of business do they want to meet? Is there a particular person they want to speak to? Have they done any research as to who might be in the room?
- Nice. Yes, you did read that correctly, nice. They need to be a nice person, other people need to like them and want to spend time with them, talk to them and eventually help them. How are you nice to your friends? You are interested in them and ask questions. You listen to what they have to say. You meet them regularly and would put their needs before your own.
Now there are many types of networking and all of them work if you work. You do need to find a set up that suits you though. Some are very formal and some are very relaxed. Some are early morning, others in the middle of the day and some on an evening after work. Don’t just try one and make your mind up, try a few and see what suits you the most. Ask others what events they go to and how it works for them. Go with a colleague or customer so you have some one to introduce you to people.
Just think, someone might ask you one day “what networking works best?”, what answer will you give them?
Next time we will look at what to do at your first event.