Networking maybe something you dread and you may tell yourself: ‘it is not my natural style to start talking to someone I don’t know well’ or ‘I don’t want to hang around after work’ or ‘it feels fake’ or ‘I simply don’t have time’. You no longer need to dread it.
All of these reasons, I propose, are merely excuses. Many people conjure up in their mind that networking is about asking others for a favour such as ‘can you help me find a new job?’ or ‘can you introduce me to that person?’. Whilst these are possible outcomes of a networking conversation, they are not the main reasons to network. It is this thinking, that often prevents us from actually networking. Therefore we need to change our thinking about what networking is.
Essentially networking is something that we do all the time – it is an exchange of information. When we think about networking in this context, it removes those excuses mentioned above, and allows us freedom to have a conversation with others.
Networking is essential for developing your personal leadership. Leaders are required to communicate effectively with a variety of individuals and groups. Getting comfortable with networking conversations can ultimately and often lead to successful outcomes for both parties.
Listen to my brief conversation with Eilidh Milnes, expert confidence coach and professional speaker who shares her top tips on networking and how to make the most out of the opportunities at this festive time.
As you prepare for your networking conversations:
- Be clear on your intention / outcome for the conversation e.g. you want to get to know more about this person or you want to seek their views on a particular situation.
- Articulate what you want from the conversation e.g. I would love to learn more about what you enjoy doing outside of work or what family traditions do you have at Christmas?
- Offer an exchange e.g. what you think might be relevant to them or how you might add value to their work / situation.
- Thank them for their listening.