Networking – what if you don’t like it?

Networking is useful for you and your business

Yes, of course you’ve heard that before and know you really should. It’s one of those nagging things that you put out of your mind as you find other more important things to do. Like doing your job.  But for so many reasons, networking will bring you benefits.  Whether it’s for finding a new job or new clients – you’ll be glad you did.

Making connection with others has so many advantages.

It’s a great opportunity to:

  • find out what’s going on in your industry
  • make connections with potential customers / clients
  • make connections with potential referrers
  • forge links with potential partners / investors
  • meet potential suppliers from  accountants and marketing experts to designers and financial advisers.

I don’t often meet people who love networking  – so what is it about networking that so many people hate?

It’s “awkward, artificial, a waste of time, difficult to find the right connections, full of sales people” and that’s just to start with.

It’s no surprise it’s not enjoyable when that’s what we have on our mind when we arrive at a networking event. So how would our experience of the event be different if we arrive with a different mindset? How about telling yourself you’re there to learn. To learn about what others do, to hear about what’s going on, to learn about how you can help others?

Listen and ask questions

Imagine going to an event and speaking to someone who asks pertinent questions, listens attentively, tells you clearly and succinctly what they do and thanks you for talking to them. Wouldn’t you remember them? Wouldn’t you want to work with them?

Like it’s a party

A business bank manager I know who is brilliant at networking, tells me that she sees it as her own party where she enjoys making sure everyone knows each other and has a good time.  She’s there to have interesting conversations and see how she might help. Wouldn’t you want a bank manager like that? See what I’m getting at?

Be clear about what you do

Don’t forget to be crystal clear about what you do and what sort of clients / customers you’r looking for.  No matter how enjoyable the event, you’re there to make useful connections.  This doesn’t mean a sales pitch or one sided elevator pitch where you broadcast what you do and then switch off.  It’s all about two way conversations. Let them know what you do and then ask them some questions. It’s important you learn about what they do as they might offer a service that could be useful to you.

Stuck with the one doing the hard sell?

If they are there to broadcast or sell, they’re unlikely to listen to you, so politely make your excuses – “it’s been good talking to you – will you please excuse me” does the trick perfectly.  And move on.

Going to the right networking event

Some people love speed networking, others hate it.  Membership networking groups such as BNI and 4N work for many.  Some choose events that have a purpose e.g. an industry talk or business seminar so that there’s something to talk about. Joining a group that appeals to your interests works really well as you’ll find you make great connections due to a common interest. All of it is about making connections, so whether it’s the chamber of commerce or a local charity group, choose the one that works for you.

Practise

The more you do it, the better you’ll become and the less painful if is.  Set yourself a realistic target of how many events you’ll attend per month, and just do it. Be sure to go with a positive mindset and you might even enjoy it.

07785 996917  info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk