Top Tips for Networking23rd September 2020
Many people approach networking with a sense of trepidation and regard it as just one of those skills that actually, they just do not feel so skilled at! In reality, however, networking is simply the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal setting. We have put together these straightforward top tips to demystify networking and ensure you get the best out of all your communications.
Create your elevator pitch
Before you begin networking you need to understand yourself and what you have to offer to a potential employer or contact. An ‘elevator pitch’ helps you to do this quickly and succinctly – i.e within the time of a lift journey
Your elevator pitch should leave the employer or contact wanting to know more
- Who you are
- What you have to offer
- What you are looking for
Understand your network
A successful professional network will allow you access to all the key people, industry-leads and insider company information. Creating a network may seem a daunting task. But you are probably a lot better connected than you realise.
Your network could include:
- Current and former colleagues
- Former classmates from school or university
- Former lecturers or teachers
- People you have interacted with professionally
- Family members or friends who may have strong professional connections
- Other connections such as people you meet at the school gates or members of your synagogue
First impressions really count
First impressions are everything: people’s perceptions of you are their reality of you! And they will form this opinion of you within seconds of meeting. Be mindful of anything you put into the public domain both in person and online. This can include:
- Physical presentation
- Body language,
- What you say
- Online posts and pictures.
Do not be afraid to give opinions or show your personality but make sure you would be happy for any current or potential employer/client to see this.
Be reliable, courteous, punctual and respectful
- Try to strike the right balance between approaching people confidently and also recognising that everyone has lots going on in their lives.
- Respond to any messages in a timely manner and follow up as appropriate. Make the best of every interaction as you never know where it can lead.
Listen to others more than you speak
- It is always tempting to jump in and fill any gaps with more conversation. However the key to good networking is to be a good listener.
- If you have asked another person for their opinion or insights, do make sure you listen properly to what they tell you.
- If you do all the talking, it can appear that you are uninterested in them and their views.
- And also try to listen very carefully to what people don’t say, as much as what they do say.
0nce you’ve identified your network, you can then consider a strategy for approaching your connections. Think creatively about the ways people can help you towards achieving your overall goal e.g. advice, information and introductions to others. And finally, do be realistic in what you ask people for as they are more likely to respond positively where they believe they can help.