Networking - How to stand out in a crowd
By Stewart Townsend on Oct 08, 2009
Many people think of business or social networking as circulating around a room and exchanging business cards. But a broader view of business and social networking is that it creates a pool of contacts from which you can draw leads, referrals, ideas, and information for your job search and career progress. You can network without ever attending an official business or social networking event, although attending events is useful in networking.
The means is not only face to face events, but also Linked In, Facebook, e-mail, Conference Calls, etc. In a nutshell, any form of communication is an opportunity for networking. The "trick" is to be prepared, ready to promote yourself, present the right image to the right people, and use your networking contacts and events as opportunities for development.
- Networking is essential for both new jobs and business contracts.
- Effective networking is 12 times more effective than answering advertisements.
- Advertising is becoming ineffective except on a large scale.
- Networking helps you find hidden opportunities and can set you apart from the competition.
- An indirect approach is better than a direct one. Use someone you know to introduce you to your target contact. Never go straight to your target without a go-between who will put in a good word for you.
- You can overcome your natural shyness, your fear of using people, and your fear of rejection.
- Build a network of partners to keep an open eye and ear for new opportunities for you.
- Reach targeted individuals in two ways: directly or indirectly.
- Build visibility by raising your profile. Go to every social gathering you possibly can. Building your network is an ongoing process. You need to increase your range of contacts constantly.
- Define your objective.
- Select the right technique.
- Understand that "deal flow" or your number of prospects must be great in order to bag one new business contract.
- Identify your target.
- Work out your positioning. This is a short statement of what you are about, what you can offer.
- Think about what you can do for your network partners in exchange for information and contacts.
- Talk to everyone you know about opportunities.
- Clarify what network partners can and will do for you.
- Know which contacts to build into network partners.
- Find those friendly network spiders, those types of people who just seem to know everyone.
- Use the telephone.
- Go out of your way to be where people are.
- Get into the habit of being talkative.
- Get the contact details of people you meet - not just exchanging business cards, but stapling information like birthdays, anniversaries, hobby clubs, and key information onto their cards.
- Choose the right method for the right person.
- Warm up long-cold contacts.
How to find targeted individuals for your network:
- Focus on what you want to achieve and how people can help you.
- Use your network partners to find suitable companies.
- Gather key information on these companies.
- Figure out who is the one with the power to hire you.
- Find people connections and common areas of interest.
- Find and persuade the best partner for your targeted individual.
- Engineer an introduction.
- Build word-of-mouth exchanges about yourself.
- Decide if you should write a letter or not.
- Be able to demonstrate your achievements.
- Have a line ready to get you past the secretary.
- Act as though you expect to be put through.
- Be ready to leave a short, persuasive message for the decision-maker.
- Be cheerful, confident and straightforward.
- Exploit connections and recommendations.
- Mention common interests.
- Report news of interest to the target.
- Wait for a response. Know when to shut up.
- Write down your opening lines before picking up the phone.
- Ask a question at a conference.
- Make a point in a meeting.
- Write letters to your industry magazine.
- Introduce yourself to lots of people at an industry show or ball.
- Buy people a drink at the bar at a lecture.
- Discuss a book with an industry leader.
- Wear bright SHIRTS
- Make people laugh.
- Have an opinion on everything. (But keep an open mind.)
- Hand out an unusual business card. (mine is a postcard size )
- Recast your CV to be a little different.
- Take up an unusual hobby - but not too unusual.
- Don't overlook using the email and Internet to communicate your cause.
So some hints and tips, mainly be yourself and be chatty, listen and enjoy yourself if you are in a crowd and feeling uncomfortable or not happy it will show and be picked up, thus don't attend an event if in a negative mood as this can have a massive impact. Think of you and what you are doing as a brand, how you want to represent yourself is key, don't try to be something you are not, if you don't like, Fly fishing you don't like it so dont pretend you do.
Go out have Fun, build your network, nurture it and they require upkeep in terms of pruning, feeding, watering and physical needs to grow, neglect them and they willow and fade away.
Final Top Tips Summary
Family, Friends - talk to everyone – Explore all possibilities
Business Cards – Do not forget them When you given a card write on it what your going to do with it
Listen intently - show interest in people
Maintain eye contact – don't look at other people
Listen for how you can help someone else
Don't forget to follow up – close any actions promised
Research speakers/attendees - see who attending – identify targets
Dont talk Jargon - be clear who you are, what you do and no ACROYNMS
Less of the drinking
Define clear goals of attending an event - who you want to meet - what you want to get out of it
Work the room - dont stand in a corner, everyone else there for the same reason to meet and network
Don't park and dump, do an intro and walk away - rude and bad practice
Contact details - keep updated, business cards use a tool like cloudcontacts, tactilecrm, information is key.
You get out what you put in - so talk to people
Lay off the hard sell on the first meet - turns people off
Networking isn't just meeting people but knowing what they can do for you and being able to clearly state what you need from them, or can do for them