It goes without saying that networking is essential for your career development. For a whole load of reasons, that I’m not going to write about in this blog, because we have lots of other blogs that talk about the benefits. So what am I going to write about today? Well, if we know networking is essential, how do we get it right?
How do we kick ass when it comes to networking? That is what I’m going to write about today. I want to share some tips on how you can take every networking opportunity and turn it into something worthwhile so that every contact you make becomes a valuable connection. This is what the great CEO’s and entrepreneurs do and have done to move their careers and businesses forward. So today, here are some tips on how you can get networking right and network like a CEO.
Be confident, poised and professional
This is my first tip, and it is probably the hardest because networking can be difficult if you struggle with your confidence, or like me in the past, you find it hard to talk about your career with passion and pride. My tip if you do have confidence issues (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) is fake it until you make it.
I’m a big fan of this strategy.
Visualise yourself as a CEO, as someone confident and at the top of their game, because in reality, you are! The more you practice fake it till you make it, the more you will feel confident in yourself – it works! The other thing CEO’s do at networking events is to behave professionally and with poise. Don’t get me wrong, have a drink and enjoy yourself, but remember that you represent your business and career.
Study the delegate list
Before the event, take some time to do some research on who is attending the event or if you are making a connection online, have a look at their profiles to get a sense of who they are and what they do. Some apps can help with the research, such as Accompany and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
If you are attending an event, they should have a hashtag that you can follow to see who else is attending and what conversations are taking place online. There should be content in the social media messages that you can draw on for discussions at the event.
Be interested and not just interesting. Ask lots of questions; this will also help the conversation flow. You will find that many senior Executives, who get how to network, will rarely talk about what they do because they go to networking events to find out what other people are doing.
This is a great approach because you will learn loads and keeping the conversation flowing. We have a list of great networking questions that you can use to help start any conversation.
Set some objectives for each networking event
This is something that I have written about before, but like any CEO, your time is precious too, so before you sign up for an event or networking opportunity, think to yourself, ‘why am I going to this, and what do I hope to achieve?’. If it is talking to a certain person, meeting a certain supplier or just making a few new connections, stick to your objectives when you are at the event.
This is also handy for exiting a conversation that might be lagging because you can tell the other person you’ve got to meet your objectives, take their details and thank them for their time.
Follow up with the people that you met at the event. Connect with them on social media, share their content and continue to build your relationship.
I struggle with something like this because it can feel pretty false and pre-prepared. But, at any networking event, you will be asked what you do, so it is well worth coming up with a few words that start the conversation.
Okay, you’ll give your job title, sure but with any follow-up questions – and we all get follow up questions. I would say something like, ‘I make my CEO incredibly successful’, which is true and not something many other people can say!
Be incredibly helpful
Last but not least, if you want to network like a CEO, be incredibly helpful. If you can help solve someone’s challenge or you can connect people that may help each other. Do it. Being helpful