Networking is the best way to expand the circle of people we work with and connect with, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The key to successful communications is to understand people; from our colleagues to our clients and their audiences – at events, online and in the office.
Emma Kane of Newgate Communications, discusses her top tips to make every networking engagement count.
- Get there early and take advantage of when people are looking out for interesting people to speak to
- Work out who is going to be there and make sure you know what they look like; go armed with a few key facts about them; you may even wish to let them know in advance you are going to be at the event and hope to catch up with them then
- Ask people if there is anyone interesting there they think you should meet and get them to introduce you
- Have something interesting to say that is relevant to that event, so that people remember you
- Always carry sufficient business cards and ensure they reflect the type of image you want to portray – they may be ‘old school’ but they are among your most important marketing tools
- Always follow up quickly either to arrange a breakfast or coffee to continue your discussions
- Be self-aware – if you are serious about networking, then slurring or having canapécrumbs stuck between your teeth is not going to help you
- Listen, don’t preach – no one wants a sales pitch, so ask open questions and do as much fact finding as you can
- Watch people’s body language and take the hint
- Top tip: to avoid getting caught with someone really boring, carry two glasses and then you can say “Apologies, I said I would get X a drink and they’ll wonder where I got to”, but if the person is really interesting, you are fully stocked to stay talking for a while!
- As soon as possible after meeting people, add them to your LinkedIn but send a covering message rather than the standard “Please add me to your LinkedIn”. Also see if they are on Twitter, Instagram and other relevant platforms
- Become known for being an expert in the areas where you want to build a following
- Post regularly and engage with interesting people – curate the people you follow carefully.
- Get introduced ‘down the corridor’ by your business contacts to their colleagues
- Get your clients to introduce and recommend you to their friends and contacts
- Find out who the non-executive directors are of a company you are acting for and find out what other companies they are associated with.
In the office
- Read the media, spot who is moving roles and congratulate them
- Ensure you get to know all your colleagues and encourage them to introduce you to their contacts for your areas of expertise.
The more networking you do, the more confidently you will be able to connect with people. Never see it as a chore. Meeting new people can be enriching, as well as productive.
Emma Kane is Chief Executive of Newgate Communications,