Fall In Love With Networking
I attended a networking event last week that advises how to network. We ‘played’ a game in which we were told nothing about how to play and it all seemed a bit tedious after a long day of work!
I did not have that ‘AHA’ moment and talking to the rest of the participants, I was not the only one to not be impressed by this game.
What became apparent to me was that the person who was guiding us did not feel authentic. The 6 figure success story was thrown in, the ‘I lost everything and now my business is worth blah blah blah”
I asked myself all weekend: “Why does this annoy me so much? Why do I shut down as soon as someone feels inauthentic and claims how much they earn?” I debated envy but no, that was not it. It was the fact that it does not feel transparent and authentic. Even though the trainer/speaker was talking about the importance of rapport and networking, it felt as if he was ‘disconnected’ from us.

Offline and online networking is one of the most important elements of any business.
An important part of networking is the impression you leave behind. Does the person you have been speaking with like you?
For me it has always been down to being myself and being transparent while maintaining a professional boundary.
But that is not enough: what most people like; is to be heard and listened to. I love listening to people so this part is easy for me. What do you do if you do not engage well with active listening?
You can practice active listening skills or change the subject to one that may interest you more and may interest the person you are connecting with. A conversation of mutual interest will keep you engaged.
Don’t forget, the more you listen, the more you know what a potential customer may need or want. Listening and gathering knowledge is a powerful tool. An engaging conversation leaves one being remembered and liked.

My advice (after having attended many networking evenings and mornings)

  1. Pick the networking meeting well: do your research and see if the event/meeting will benefit you and your business.
  2. Connect with people who may interest you and build a good network with: such as the ‘opportunist’: these characters are the ones that they have an incredible ability to connect people and give out invites to future events. They always seem to know who’s who and what is on.
  3. Give, Give, Give of yourself and your business. Networking is about the ‘other’ not just about you. How can your business/service benefit the ‘Other’? I am most attracted to the ‘givers’ in the room. Not the people who promise to give, the people who already are giving, of themselves and their time.
  4. Dress appropriately: by this I mean, dress to be yourself. You need to be comfortable and feel at ease in your outfit. It will make socialising much easier. Your body language is important and if you feel uncomfortable in your outfit, this will come across in your body language. Dress to feel confident!
  5. Have empathy; active listening engages one and in this engagement empathy is felt. When you connect, magic happens. Genuine empathy is a very attractive attribute
  6. Do not forget to HAVE FUN while you network. Laugh, relax and enjoy! You will be amazed the people you will attract when you are genuinely enjoying an event and laughing.
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