Whether you are currently happy in your job and well-surrounded or whether you are unemployed with no contacts, you can probably find some resourceful information applicable immediately after reading this article.
In my experience with clients, networking would probably sit in the top 3 fears that most people have alongside with speaking in public or introducing themselves. I will try to give you practical tips applicable in the upcoming months without too much stress and pressure.
# Networking tip 1: Attend smaller size events (10-15 guests max)
According to Derek Coburn*, larger networking events tend to offer a mixed bag to participants who come for different reasons hence the potential frustration that you are probably not going to achieve your networking objective. He privileges smaller targeted events as a way to maximize your success.
In my view, smaller targeted events work well because you will spend more time to get to know each guest if you are only 10 rather than 200+. In smaller events, there is usually some form of introduction by the host or the venue hosting the event which also makes it easier and encourage exchanges to break the ice. Derek Coburn suggests 3 types of events to develop your networking options.
Host your own event(s): Start your meetup group around a passion, a hobby or an issue you are concerned with and meet people around this topic of interest.Double dating: When you go to an event, make sure that the host brings someone you don’t know, and you bring a new person to the group. Double dating or double exposure increase the chance to meet relevant contacts.Reconnect with dormant ties: Before you try to find new contacts, check your phone and your current social media, chances are you already have relevant contacts you forgot about. Send a quick reconnect message and invite them for a quick chat.
# Networking tip 2: Go outside of your comfort zone(s)
Inga Carboni* put together extensive research and compiled data from 30 organizations with 16,500 men and women in the last 15 years to understand what successful female networkers did to grow their careers faster to C-Suite levels.
*Of course, in my view, these techniques may be helpful to both men and women as we could all learn from this study.
Efficiency / Time Management: Are you currently happy with how you manage your time? Or do you have regular non-wanted interruptions from people who need your help? Managing your time is uttermost important to not only get credibility with your boss and you team but also to focus on important tasks and not the details.
The first thing you need to do is take 100% control on your agenda. Nobody should be able to impose tasks, meetings and other non-wanted items without you seeing the value of it. My old time favorite since I started my career is the Franklin Covey time management series*. If you need more ideas, comment below and I will point towards other time management resources.
Nimble / Fluidity: Women tend to be better at nurturing relationships. They would also know when to prioritize maybe new connections versus older connections for gaining strategic access to a new opportunities.
One way to look at the “fluidity aspect” is to look at what you need and how you can build a win / win connection with someone to get it. However, remember the reciprocity and make sure you work on a win/win situation. If you are only taking from your network without bringing value, you will not benefit long term. Successful people know the benefits of building a network for a long-term sustainable partnership.
Boundary-spanning: In this study, successful people were very good at expanding to gain opportunities. New contacts and innovation may not happen in your current circles as you know each other too well. You need to go outside of your comfort zones.
So, book this ticket to a conference across your country and you will likely meet new faces and hence get new opportunities. Do not worry about relocation issues, if it is the right job, negotiation is always possible. Your mindset should be focused on meeting people who can help you deliver more value in your field of expertise. Distance is a non-issue for high achievers.
Energy balance: High performance and high energy tend to go hand in hand. Leaders tend to have this gravitas around them that you have to stop and listen to them because they are so insightful.
Leaders tend to display warmth, emotional intelligence, comprehension. Basically, they are likable.
# Networking tip 3: Unleash the power of Technology
If you read up until this part of the article, you may still be thinking on how you can develop more in-person events to grow your career, your business or any other goals. I have good news for you! Technology may help you. I recommend using LinkedIn and Shapr. Shapr is the best application to grow your network and influence in record times without leaving your home as people who choose to be on the app are open to connect with everyone as long as you both match. Just download the app and start creating a profile with keywords and voilà you can potentially match with the biggest CEO’s in your region if you branded yourself properly.
Using networking apps does not need to replace networking in events, conferences or seminars but it helps to speed up the process. You also practice the boundary spanning tip as the algorithm may match you with someone outside of your field who could actually provide solutions to your biggest business issues.
As I am writing this blog article, a global pandemic reducing human to human contact may affect going to live events in the upcoming weeks, this is why I believe that starting the habit to network online could help you.
If you want to learn more about how to leverage networking to grow your career, you can book a quick call with me.
Challenge to you: Do you believe you can get 3 relevant new networking contacts in 3 months? Comment below
Shapr - Application available on Google Play, itunes