The art of networking
Waterfront Conference Company is a division of Freshwater which specialises in providing policy conferences, workshops and bespoke training courses to multiple sectors. The opportunity for networking is a key draw for its delegates, and here the team offers their top tips for effective networking…
From reaching influential people in your sector, to building connections and hopefully landing that piece of new business, networking – especially in tough times – can be crucial to an organisation’s success.
But nothing creates a sense of dread in the workplace quite like the boss saying “Get out there and do some networking”.
Attending networking events is akin to seeing the ‘five degrees of separation’ in action - It never ceases to amaze, how connected people are when you meet them – whether they know an old school friend or worked with a colleague.
Far from being an intimidating experience, networking events are often attended by a host of key contacts, just waiting to be unearthed. Here, Waterfront Conference Company offer the following advice for effective networking:
- Be targeted – Chambers of commerce, forums and business clubs organise hundreds of networking events each year. Consider who’s attending each one. Avoid chummy gatherings that are a substitute for catching up on the latest gossip. You are there to do business.
- Keep it local – Public sector procurement increasingly favours buying services locally so ensure you’re a key player in your area. Living in the community in which you’re networking means you’re well placed to offer unique insights into local issues and personalities.
- Feel free to move from person to person – but be sensitive about ending a conversation.
- Be genuine –There’s no need to play the pushy salesman. It’s about displaying strong emotional intelligence, after all.
- Create a rapport– Nothing stops a conversation flowing quicker than yes and no responses! Ask ‘open’ questions.
- Offer solutions – Match your expertise to the business challenge of the person you’re talking to, with an offer to meet up to discuss further without obligation. If it’s not your field, recommend a contact that could help.
- Make use of your business card - Don’t just hand it over; emphasise how they can contact you further via your website and social media presence too.
- Get social (media) – While networking events offer a welcome reprieve from the PC screen, social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn are excellent tool for keeping in touch with contacts, old and new, long after the event finishes .