“Networking that matters is helping people achieve their goals.” (Seth Godin)
Simply put, networking is building mutually beneficial connections with other professionals. It brings lots of benefits including identifying potential corporate partners and making more impactful connections. But how do you shift your networking from ordinary to remarkable? Here are our five recommendations to become a remarkable networker.
1. Relationship building
We recommend you think about networking as relationship building, rather than just an exchange of contact details. Most of us become corporate fundraisers because we love the cause, not because we love being salespeople. When I first started networking it felt a little daunting and scary walking into a room full of strangers. But I switched my mindset and said to myself “I am here to just meet people and build relationships.” I didn’t put too much pressure on myself. When you’re at a business or networking event, keep in mind that many other people there are also nervous. Understanding and recognising others feelings can help to move beyond the artificial sense of networking and develop a real relationship.
2. Set yourself goals
The first step in setting goals is to define what your networking success will look like.
What do you want from your network? Are you hoping for more referrals?
It could be getting yourself out there so that more people know who you are.
Think in advance of any event and note down your networking goals for that event. These could be a mix of specific names, as well as types of people or priority industries that you want to speak with. The most important goal is to talk, even if briefly in the coffee queue. I set myself a goal to speak to five strangers and to set up a meeting with at least one person. It worked!
3. Just say yes!
Saying YES means making the most of every opportunity and encounter. Say yes to every invitation you get for coffee or lunch. Go to those after-work drinks, meet-up events or network socials even if it makes you nervous. Just remember that you will come out of it with new impactful connections. You never know whom you may meet and where it may lead. I once said yes to an event on the spur of the moment, which led to me introducing myself to a contact, which then developed into a corporate partner and secured a £50k partnership.
4. Networking conversations
It’s tempting when you are at a networking event, to jump straight in with your elevator pitch. Elevator pitches are all about sales, whereas networking conversations are all about building mutually beneficial relationships. Networking conversations are about give and take, the exchange of ideas that evolve over many conversations over a period of time. You want to get meaningful results, from impactful conversations. A great way to do this is to focus the conversation on the other person, tell them why they are interesting to you and invite them to share more. Ask them what they want talk about. Taking a genuine interest in them increases your chances of making a meaningful connection.
5.The law of reciprocity
A really good question I ask someone whilst networking is: “who ideally would you like to meet here today?” This shows them that I am a helpful and generous person. And once I know the answer, I may instantly be able to introduce them to someone! The principle of reciprocation means the other person will then feel a deep need to help me in the same way. So there will be twice as many people in the room on the lookout for my dream contact. Networking should always be beneficial to both parties.
In summary, there are three qualities of a remarkable networker:
- Be real
- Be helpful
- Be proactive
We hope you found this blog useful. We would love to hear your feedback and any other recommendations for effective networking. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org