How to Network 101
Updated: Jan 26
While potentially lucrative, life in the business world isn’t always so straightforward: there will always be numerous hurdles to jump – no matter the sphere – and they come in all sorts of forms, including fluctuating marketing trends, competitors, and even world health crises. These challenges regularly vary in terms of their severity but you can always count on them to be a constant consideration. How we manage them, however, is the key to our success and (hopefully in few cases) our demise.
Here at Pulse, we’re interested in helping ensure the former, and one way of doing this is engaging the right people at the right time to reach your goals – whether that be your required ROI, continued engagement with loyal customers, or securing new partners. That last activity can be somewhat daunting for new managers taking on new roles of engagement. It’s one of the reasons Pulse New Business Director Elena Slobodyaniuk rounded up a few of the staff here at Pulse last week to chat about best practices for meeting and engaging new partners; a little Networking 101.
One of the most daunting realities to meeting new people is that networking events often happen in places that are unfamiliar. These few life hacks should get you on your way to ensuring great relationships you continue to benefit from long after the initial connect.
1. What is networking? Networking is effective communication. Regardless of where you are, what event you happen to find yourself at, or with whom you are speaking, make contact and exchange business cards. No matter what might be happening next week, a year from now, or five years down the road, you may find you have a need for someone in this sphere and it will work in your favour that you already have a connection.
2. When meeting a new contact, and while this seems logical and unnecessary to even bring up, never forget to voice not just your first name, but also your last name, and do this – always – whether connecting for the first time or re-establishing contact. In addition, never forget to include the company you represent. You want your name and the name of your company to become synonymous with each other so that when your contact needs something your company does, he or she knows exactly to whom to reach out.
3. Not disconnected to the tip above, as soon as you are introduced to a new contact, consolidate this new relationship with an email. At the point that you reach out to your new contact again in the future, he or she will recall that you already have a connection. This form of “brand trust” is very important to establishing a long-term relationship with a potential new partner, because effective connections are those that bring you some kind of benefit in the future – don’t forget that.
4. Not everyone is entirely comfortable meeting new people. When anxiety strikes you might talk about things you shouldn’t; you may start doing funny things with your hands; or you might have one more drink than you need… Think about these things ahead of any event you might be attending and if you know you need a little extra encouragement give yourself the time you need to prepare. Practice how you want to introduce yourself; maybe think about putting your hands in your pocket; and limit your alcohol intake.
5. There is an etiquette to networking:
i. Drinking and food – etiquette suggests that you eat and / or take a drink when the person with whom you are conversing does the same. If he or she is educated in this art, they will do likewise.
ii. Watch your spacing, and not only during Covid. A metre and a half is the acceptable distance between you and your new contact. Get any closer and you risk other impressions you don’t necessarily have control over, not to mention the mist that sometimes accompanies a lively conversation.
iii. It is absolutely acceptable to politely interrupt a conversation that is ongoing to briefly introduce yourself. Should the individual in question let you know that he or she can’t engage just at this moment, exchange business cards and refer to point 3.
6. Social platforms are an amazing place to be promoting your business or project. Our social media handles and pages are extremely important to ensuring a professional impression when establishing new partners. If you are on social media, you can be sure that someone will be checking your profile on Meta (nee Facebook) and Instagram at some point to see what you’re up to. Adjust your settings to ensure that what you’re posting is professional and represents you and your company well and ensure that your personal posts are to friends and family alone.
Your job at any function where you are representing your company is to convey trust – trust in you as the representative and trust in the business for whom you work. That’s it. Engage in the above, and you strengthen that trust muscle within yourself and those with whom you engage at every single meeting.
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