Here is a list of shortcuts and tips to make you better at the art of networking.
It’s all about helping
I personally think networking should be about helping people achieve their goals – and I love doing that!
It becomes more natural and fun than if you see people as a stepping stone to get to where you want to go. Simple ways you can help:
- Make an introduction to a person who could be helpful in their life and business
- Recommend relevant stuff e.g book, a blog, an event, a product/service or method
- Give time & feedback
Find out what people are focusing on right now and try to help them. Or ask them for advice about something you are challenged with. Most of the time – people love to help you too.
Networking at events
Here are tips for networking specifically at events:
- Decide whether you are intentionally networking (clear goal in mind) or unintentionally (simply showing interest in whoever comes on your path). Chief of happiness at ArcticStartup Joppe Quaedvlieg says “The reason is to get the mind ready to show interest and network instead of not knowing why you are there.”
- Joppe’s second tip: Talk with lonely people – they will be grateful for you starting to talk with him or her.
- If there is an event app – I recommend you to use it! Make sure you are recognisable in your picture and your profile is up to date. At Freelance Business Day we use Brella.
- Try to do carpooling to get to the event with other attendees – meet new people, have time to get to know them better and don’t arrive alone to an event. A tip is to use the event hashtag on Twitter or any FB page to find other attendees, to carpool with or just to get to know before the event.
- I always scroll through the attendees and connect with interesting people on LinkedIn before an event starts.
- Go early. I don’t like to enter a big room full of people interrupting ongoing discussions. If I’m there at the start I can ease into the crowd better when more attendees join.
- Joseph McGuire, Profiler at Clearsight Communications takes this one step further. Arrive early and help set up. That way you’ll get to know and be remembered by the organizers. He also says organizers can make introductions to interesting attendees. As an organizer myself I wholeheartedly agree with him.
Another tip by Joseph: For the introvert networker who finds it difficult to talk about themselves Joseph has a workaround: Bring a friend or colleague and talk to others about them. Promoting each other can be easier for introverts.
Give them something to start talking about
Jorim Rademaker, is the founder of Manual.to has plenty of networking experience as a startup founder. Here are his tips:
- Make it easy for people to approach you by giving them something to start talking about. It can be something you bring (an object, a book) or something you wear, like a badge with your logo.
- Wear your name badge or business card in a badge which helps avoid people being afraid of misspelling or mispronouncing your name
- Ask people who they think you should talk to next, or what companies they know that could use your product or service.
- Ask people what they remember from your pitch by asking them how they would summarise your offering: you will learn whether you communicated your offering clearly and/or what they valued most in your offering.
- Prepare by reading up on people if you know they will attend and want to talk to them. 6/ If you did not get to talk to them, connect afterwards and ask to catch up later over coffee or a phone call.
- Remember Peter Hinssen’s advice “The Network Always Wins” and start connecting!
But how does the network win?
I think having a large network is like having a big bag of money in a bank safe. A good network gives you instant access to the right people and the right information, when you need it. My network has helped me get jobs, sell tickets, find speakers for my events, getting to know people from all over the world, get valuable information and so on and so on.
Two other entrepreneurs share how they benefit from networking:
- Laetitia De Muts: All but two of my important career changing jobs/fellowships/trainings/other opportunities came through friends, esp. friends working in the same sector as me. They didn’t get me the jobs or get me in the door (no nepotism), but they did put them on my radar by forwarding them or suggesting I should apply.
- Sara Reyniers: Clients. Telling people of a new project you want to try out or simply what you’re working on, often leads to the answer: I’m interested in that service or I know somebody who might be interested in that service 🙂 Always tell people what it is that you do
Written by: Jenny Bjorklof who will share her best LinkedIn tips for how to optimise your profile and create engaging content for social selling at Freelance Business Day the 14th of April 2018. If you are registered for the event you can connect with other attendees through the Brella app – you have received the code in your latest email with practical information.