Networking is an essential item in your business toolkit. It provides scope to reach new clients which can lead to increased profit and business growth. The opportunity to meet other like-minded people in your field to share knowledge and experiences can lead to new relationships, which can benefit both parties in the future.
Rule one, don’t just talk about yourself and your business. Show that you are interested in the people you are meeting by asking them questions. They are more than likely to return the questions so you will have an opportunity to speak about what you do too.
From your facial expression to stance, we all have the ability to indicate interest and boredom. Maintaining eye contact with an open posture signals that you are listening to the person you are speaking with. Standing with your arms crossed, looking past the individual to see who is coming in the room not only show’s disinterest, it is also rude.
Active listening is defined as ‘the act of mindfully hearing and attempting to comprehend the meaning of words spoken by another in conversation or speech'. It requires you to fully concentrate on the person speaking and understanding what they have said. It sounds simple, but it is a skill to be developed with practice over time. There are verbal and non-verbal signs of active listening. Verbal include; positive reinforcement, questioning, clarification and summarising what a person has told you. Non-verbal include; smiling, eye-contact, posture and not being distracted.
Why bother pretending to be someone you are not? The point of networking is for you to get to know others and vice versa.Clearly it is important to act professionally, but let your personality shine, it may be the reason why someone remembers you and gets in contact after a networking event.
First of all, research the networking events that are right for you. Time is precious, so don’t waste it attending events where you have nothing to share or gain. Go to events that are attended by like-minded people that you want to meet. Secondly, prepare yourself with questions and topics of conversation that will be of mutual interest.
When you enter a room, scan it and identify who you would like to approach. Introduce yourself with confidence and ask a simple opening question such as ‘what do you do?’.This will show the person that you are interested in finding out more about them and should nicely open up a conversation.
Through networking you can gain useful business contacts and drum up new business, but you will only gain these advantages if you give something back. If people realise you are only out for a self-serving purpose then you will not get very far. Ask how you can help, from making introductions to reading over a business proposal, you may learn something new and leave a positive impression.
Don’t put pressure on yourself by going into a networking event with a strict agenda. This will not make it enjoyable for you or those you are talking to. Remember to be genuine, of course do your research, but don’t set yourself up to fail by attempting to get as many contact details as you can.
Harness the power of social media. Social media is a useful tool to do your research prior to and post event. Look for shared interests and other things in common which you can naturally drop into conversations. Make sure your social media accounts are up-to-date so that when other people research you they get a true reflection of your
interests and aspirations.
Do follow up with those people that you make a connection with. Whether this be over email, or dropping them a phone call, aim to do it the next day and set up a meeting or lunch. Go the extra mile by sending them a link to an article or something of interest that you discussed at the event. This show’s that you were actively listening to what they had to say, which will help to develop your relationship.
If you have any questions on this blog post or want to find out about networking events in the healthcare setting, please feel free to get in contact with the 2xN team by clicking here.
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