Networking is an essential skill.
It’s a skill that encompasses communication, organisation and creative skills. The aim of networking can be different depending on your personal circumstances.
For a new business owner, it’s important to network to spread the word and use networking as part of the company’s marketing plan.
For a job seeker, networking is all about keeping your profile high and discovering the hidden job market.
Whether you are self-employed, running a small business or looking for your next job opportunity there are a few essential guidelines for networking that you need to bear in mind.
First of all you need to be prepared. By being prepared, we mean that you need to have collateral and a know how you are going to present yourself. Collateral can be a business card, an A5 flyer, a list of projects, company brochure and of course, your CV if necessary.
Then you need to be able to introduce yourself succinctly to elicit interest and questions from the people you meet. You will also need to prepare some questions as well so that you can use the answers to discover more useful information.
Whether you are looking for a lead, an opportunity or just a to find out what connects you to the person you are talking to, asking enquiring and provocative questions is a good way to research your own goal.
Remember to ‘log’ your contacts, track them and reach out to them when you need support. Thank them as well, if they have helped you. Good networking involves giving, asking, listening and doing. And remembering which you did with whom and where!
Keeping a diary of events and meetings is essential, especially if you are job hunting. You can be selective about setting up meetings and attending groups, but regular networking will keep your spirits lifted and your motivation high. Use 1:1 informational meetings for support and for guidance as well as for getting results.
It’s good to meet people and to share experiences and ideas as well as picking their brains. Remember to give as good as you get, networking is a two way process at the best of times.