The Power of Networking? Relax and smile!
Networking at events: it seems like an obligation. And that's where you have a problem right there. If the aim is to score as many business cards as you can, and frantically introduce yourself to as many people as possible, you're actually doing it wrong. Networking has enormous power, but only if you do it the right way.
Below, networking coach Veronique Hoex offers five practical tips to instantly generate positive results:
1. One must Network...
Networking continues to sound like something that’s compulsory, and that's entirely the wrong approach. Actually, networking is something you do best when you’re relaxed when meeting others. So throw the 'must' aspect out the window. Think of neighborhood get-togethers, parent meetings, a wine tasting, a football match... everyone is in a relaxed frame of mind with a common goal and a genuine interest in one other. The fun then is getting to meet new people in a relaxed manner. In order to have a strong network, it's essential not to stagnate. So look for a fresh approach and diversity in your circle of acquaintances.
When we're on the same wavelength and taking an interest in others, we are connecting. Without connecting, there's only a fleeting contact, without real value. The key to a good relationship with others is to show a genuine interest in the other person. Ask questions, let others speak, and before you know it, you're immersed in a pleasant conversation where you may discover common ground.
3. Prepare yourself
The moment will always arrive when it’s time to introduce yourself. Be prepared! How do you want people to remember you? What impression do you want to leave in the mind of the other person? As somebody's parent? Or as the communications specialist of an IT company looking for new opportunities? Or maybe both? By introducing yourself in an awkward manner, you’re doing your personal brand no favors.
4. Consider the 'goodwill'
When we're sympathetic toward someone, we're generally happy to help that person out further. This is known as the 'goodwill'. This factor is crucial in networking and is difficult to sum up in a few words. It comes across in small acts like allowing someone speak, asking an interesting question, or offering a spontaneous smile... People love it when you’re sincere or spontaneous - when you care about those around you, or simply when you're just being good company.
5. Keep the scales balanced
Networking is both the art of giving and receiving. It is important to keep this balance. Imagine that you're looking for a job and a friend makes a recommendation to the company where they work. It’s logical that you’ll thank them for the introduction. And will you take it a step further if you actually get the job? Many of us receive information and put it to use, but most of us won’t bother to give feedback to the 'giver'. A good networker will receive his 'information gift' and will thank the giver for this information, which will once again reinforce the 'goodwill'.
Finally, one more thing: ENJOY every moment and every new encounter to the fullest, because every connection can provide a new opportunity. Sybarites are the best networkers: they always have a smile on their face and are a welcome guest at any party or event - on good, bad or fantastic days!