Networking can have an incredible impact on our career and learning progression. That’s why in August Melbourne Lean In focused on acing networking skills during the workshop led by Rachel Service from Happiness Concierge.
For those who missed out on the event and for those who want to refresh their memory after couple of weeks, here are the key things we learned.
#1 Use your ‘weekend face’
You don’t know what is the ‘weekend’ face or how it differs from a ‘thinking’ face – do this exercise right now. Grab your mobile, start thinking about upcoming deadlines, your growing to-do-list and take a selfie. Then think of the fun you had with your family/friends on the weekend and plans for the next weekend, take a selfie. Do you see the difference now?
If not – please share with us how you do it!
When entering the room show the smile, open body language to signal that you are there to share positive energy and you are open to meet new people.
#2 Introduce yourself
Tell people about yourself in a simple and easy way. Think how would you describe what you do to a 12 year old? If you make it simple and memorable, it will make much more easy for people to remember it and they will be able to introduce you to others. There is a chance that they will remember it next time when they need somebody like you.
Share with people what would you like to do more of and don’t forget to be yourself and genuine – it’ll make easier to find people you vibe with.
#3 Listen to learn, not to reply
Get to know people you are talking to. Seeking common interests makes it easier to start the relationship.
Don’t be afraid to ask – What interests you? What’s exciting you right now? What do they want to do more of?
Think about how you can help support them – what are they good at? What do they want more of? Who can help?
Try to help and pay it forward.
#4 Exit with warmth and follow up
You are out there on a networking event to meet people and make connections. It doesn’t matter if you are stuck with the most boring people you’ve ever met in your life or if you had just met your new soul buddy – at some point you need to exit the conversation and move on to meet with the others. What’s the best way to do it? Make sure that they are not left alone – engage somebody standing close to you and initiate the conversation (Go to back to rule #3 it will help you to do it). Thank them for their time and leave.
You do not need to provide detailed excuse – it can only prolong the conversation and start unnecessary questions or problem solving.
If your conversation partner decided to leave you – don’t treat it personally – remember everybody is there to make connections and meet more people. Just move to another group and start with step #1.
Don’t forget about following up after the event – send email, social network invitation, send through promised links to articles, books or other connections.
#5 Take a rest
It might be sometimes very stressful and daunting to be alone among strangers and getting out of your comfort zone to come up to them and start the conversation or just talk for long time. It is OK to take a break, hide away from people and just be alone for few minutes and reset your mind. And what’s the best way to do it – go to the loo! Give some time to yourself and after couple of minutes , you will be ready to be back to rock the crowd.
#6 Analyze your network – create opportunities
It’s inevitable to run from time to time through your network – especially if you are out there ready for new opportunities.
Look at people in your network – think how they can support your future career step, who they might evangelise about you to, who is missing in your network and who do you want to know?
Below is the diagram that can help you to do it. Give it a go!
#7 Take small steps of action
By now you know who you need in your network… Now think how might you facilitate the introduction/connection? What can you do for them to make them take notice?
Invite people you need to social media, follow them, reach out to them, offer volunteering, create genuine connections based on shared interests.
And don’t forget – relationships are #1 contributor to career fulfilment and advancement!
If you want to read more – take a look at the Rachel’s presentation http://happinessconcierge.com/slides-ace-my-network and don’t be afraid to reach out to her.
Join our circle to network with a professional group of women and discussing matters important to women: https://leanin.org/circles/melbourne-lean-in