Networking with purpose

By: Michelle Welch, Learning & Development Consultant 4 days ago Categories: Blog

Networking is not just about business and selling, it’s about getting to know new people and building new connections. The summer social season is upon us so what better time to brush up our networking skills to make the most of these events?

Many of us are unsure how to strike up a conversation with people we haven’t met before or what to talk about with distant colleagues, our partner’s friends, or indeed old school alumni.

The Juniper Co. was recently invited to present on the topic of “Networking with purpose” at the LVS Ascot alumni event - a summer get together providing a perfect opportunity to polish up those networking skills!

The event was well attended with past pupils ranging from the 1930’s to 2015, allowing us to draw on a broad spectrum of experience in terms of networking, and to share some tips that guests could put into practice at the B.B.Q following the presentation.

Do you have a networking event soon? Here are our top tips:

Get ready to network!

The aim of networking is not to sell – it’s to meet new people and get to know them. Set achievable goals before you go to an event, for example:

  • “I’d like to talk to three people I haven’t met yet and follow up with at least 1 of them”
  • What’s happening? – Be up to date on news (have you thought of checking Twitter for this?)
  • What else can I find out about others attending the event? (LinkedIn, websites, common interests with you)
  • How will I make an impression – What’s your elevator pitch? A good elevator pitch is a short introduction that grabs attention, memorable and delivers a clear message.

At the event

  • Arrive early! – You’ll be in a position to grab a drink, see who else is coming, start a conversation as opposed to having to join one
  • Use positive body language and eye contact
  • Introduce yourself and ask for an introduction
  • Handshake (maintain eye contact, firm not limp, but not bone crunching either).

What to talk about

Striking up a conversation with someone who you have never met can be quite daunting. Many people say they feel uncomfortable at networking events. How do you begin a conversation? What do you talk about? It is completely normal to feel awkward – you’re out of your comfort zone. Think of networking as an opportunity to learn about others.

  • Be curious and ask open questions
  • Focus on the relationship
  • Always be constructive, never destructive
  • Listen & ask follow up questions

Breaking away from a conversation

In a 2014 Survey of British adults in or seeking work, 51% said when attending an event, they worry about being stuck with someone they don’t want to talk to.

Don’t forget – people are there to network and meet people so don’t feel bad about ending a conversation after a few minutes.

Try:

“I’ve just spotted someone I really wanted to meet, but I’d love to continue our conversation – can we exchange business cards, are you on social media?”

Following the event

  • Take notes
  • Keep in touch:
    • On social media
    • Meet for coffee if practical
    • Offer introductions to other people in your network whom you think may be of interest
  • Keep networking

Networking is not a 9-5 activity so why not put these tips to the test at your next social gathering or business event? We’d love to know how you get on!

Remember:

  • Every connection you have has a value – someone who is your peer now might be a leader in the future
  • Networking is a continuous process - make it part of your daily/weekly activities – make an effort to put yourself out there and talk to people
  • Enjoy it!


Here are a few photos from our networking session with LVS Ascot: