How to master the art of traditional networking

In our earlier post, we talked about the things you can do to master digital networking. Whilst digital networking is heavily important, traditional networking isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

When I say traditional networking, I’m talking about leveraging your connections in order to create new opportunities and share information – whether it’s through networking events, client meetings or chatting over coffee.

When you hear the word networking, you may associate it with being in a jazzy conference room, with a glass of wine in your hand, speaking to influential people and making a good impression of yourself. Sounds nice, right?

It can also be deemed as a chore of making awkward conversations that has to be done. It doesn’t have to be like this.

I for one am a massive fan of networking. The benefits to be had from building relationships are endless. Each person you meet has an importance and will most likely teach you something valuable.

Networking and the great things that come from it are vital if you want to succeed in the business world – especially if you’re trying to break into an entirely new work environment.

To master networking and get all the great benefits it has to offer, read (and apply) these simple tips;

The chat

When you’re networking remember that everyone is human.

The opening line of your conversation doesn’t have to be regarding how the Asian and Pacific Stock markets are performing.

Being able to make small talk is a huge benefit. More often than not if you’re able to talk about something other than work, the chance of someone remembering you is significantly raised.

If someone tells you something about his or her life outside of work, for example, if they go to the countryside twice a month or their favourite local restaurant – remember it. These small bits of information will come in handy if you meet again.

There will be a time and a place to delve deeper into the intricacies of your industry or discuss technicalities, but it’s very important to be able to judge the correct time and place.

The purpose

Remember the purpose for your networking venture.

Whether its to meet people in the industry you’re interested in, learn more about a potential company or attract investors for a start-up company  – most people network with an intention in mind.

This is important…don’t let that free bar sway you.

Another common networking mistake is when individuals try to impress everyone in the room. Whilst it’s great to show yourself off, the goal of networking is to show that you would add value if you were to be part of someones network and vice versa.

You want the person you’re conversing with to feel special and want to be a part of your network.

You can do this by;

  • Keeping steady eye contact so the individual you’re conversing with knows your attention is on them and them only.
  • Show interest in their life and career by asking follow-up questions based on what they have told you.

The connections

Use your contacts – if you’re new to networking, you’re probably there as you have realised that forming the right connections is vital.

As the famous saying goes ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’.

If you’re shy, starting to network with those around you is a great first step.

There is the assumption that networking is all about throwing yourself out there into the big wide world and meeting complete strangers. However, it’s sometimes networking with those that are already in your circles that may give the best benefit.

The Homework

Study before you network.

This is great for two reasons;

  • It allows you to understand what you’re getting yourself into.
  • It will help you feel more relaxed – fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

By going in armed with mental or written notes (and hopefully questions), you will find that you will get much more out of networking.

In most cases, you may not know who is attending a networking event. However, if you do, gaining a few insights about their background, alma mater, past job roles and anything they’ve said/written is always helpful.

Whilst I don’t encourage a full throttle stalk of those that are attending the event (that’s just weird). Preparing just a few notes on the company itself, their vision, history and the senior members will go a long way.

It will also help you to relax as you’ll know a little bit about the people you’ll be trying to connect with, what you want to get out of the event and you’ll feel more at ease for anything that may come your way.

When there’s that awkward silence moment, you can use one of those talking points or questions that you have prepped prior to the event to keep the conversation flowing and make yourself look like a total pro!

The follow-up

I personally see this as the most important trick to effective networking.

I always try to keep in touch with event attendees. This means I have to keep a record of who I talk to –  a subtle addition of their name and job title to the notes section on your phone wont go a miss in this circumstance.

A follow-up doesn’t mean sending a long email – in fact I don’t know how many people do that after networking events nowadays.

A connect on LinkedIn is your best friend.

It’s really not uncommon to send a quick message asking if you coud talk more over a quick coffee.

Forming a connection on LinkedIn will also allow you to see who other people are connected to and understand the various connections you may need in the future.

A great way to close your networking session is by showing your appreciation. A little thank you never hurt anyone. Regardless of how you believe the networking went, a great way to leave a positive impression is by sharing your appreciation and gratitude for their time and advice.

Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. However, the more it is done, the more you will comfortable with it.



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