Networking is essential for your career development. For a whole load of reasons, I’m not going to write about it in this blog because we have many other blogs that talk about the benefits. So what am I going to write about today? 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 turn every networking opportunity into something worthwhile so that every contact you make becomes a valuable connection. This is what great CEOs and entrepreneurs do and have done to move their careers and businesses forward. So today, here are some tips on getting networking right and networking 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 have confidence issues (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) is to fake it until you make it.
I’m a big fan of this strategy.
Visualise yourself as a CEO, someone confident and at the top of their game, because in reality, you are! The more you practice faking it till you make it, the more you will feel confident in yourself – it works! The other thing CEOs do at networking events is to behave professionally and with poise. Don’t get me wrong, drink and enjoy yourself, but remember that you represent your business and career.
Study the delegate list
Before the event, take some time to research who is attending the event, or if you are making a connection online, look at their profiles to get a sense of who they are and what they do. Some apps like Accompany and LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help with the research.
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, 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 keep 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 making a few new connections, stick to your objectives 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 this because it can feel 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, sure, you’ll give your job title, 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, if you want to network like a CEO, be incredibly helpful. If you can help solve someone’s challenge or connect people who may help each other. Do it. Being helpful