“Network”. You will hear this advice from many people when they recommend another to look for a job, do business or acquire knowledge about a speciality. This expression has replaced the traditional one: “Go to a conference or a business presentation”.
The literal translation of «networking» is “working your network of contacts”. More broadly, it can be defined as a technique to exchange experiences with people who work in your sector or another potential one. That may be useful in the future, looking for a job and generating business opportunities.
Networking takes place at fairs, events, talks, or any occasion in which professionals we are interested in establishing contact will attend. It is a rather informal environment but work-oriented.
What are the objectives of networking?
- Promotion of our company or brand: a person who has visibility and notoriety in these events can become an influencer in the sector.
- Meet new suppliers or companies with which to collaborate.
- Reach new customers.
- Improve communication skills: you learn to listen and present your knowledge.
- Carry out a study of the competition: knowing closely what they offer and how they do it.
The six keys to success in a networking event
- Prepare a strategy: carry out a preliminary study of the event you are interested in attending to identify the contacts you consider key to knowing. You must be clear about why you want to go and what you are looking for. To ‘break the ice in your presentation, follow the latest posts of the people you want to talk to to get to know them as well as possible.
- Prepare the material: business cards are a fundamental tool to retain your contacts. Check that it contains your company or speciality, address, email, landline, mobile, and other important information. You should keep the cards given to you because you will never know when you may need them.
- Attend alone: although the simplest thing is to go accompanied to events, going alone will push you to speak and get to know yourself better. Once you see someone you want to meet, smile, offer your hand, say your name and what you do.
- Start natural conversations: face the first contact with a positive attitude. Look for eye contact and take care of body postures. A good impression is a key to empathizing with others. Rehearsing the speeches will make you feel more confident and improve your power of conviction to better “sell” your projects or ideas.
- Prepare your exit speech: manage your time and if the talk is satisfactory, opt for goodbyes such as: “It was amazing talking to you, but I’m sure there are more people here who want to meet you. I would like to continue this conversation later because I think we could work together on…”.
- Keep in touch: write to each of your new contacts in the days after the event. The emails or messages must be personalized to maintain open communication. The social network LinkedIn is the most effective for networking. All actions must be aimed at strengthening ties and generating mutual trust.
In recent years, “Speed networking” has become fashionable, events with short talks (from two to ten minutes long) with each contact with the following dynamic:
- Share professional experiences and business goals
- Convey two main ideas
In a world as globalized as the current one, it is almost more important to meet the right people capable of making a difference at a given time than to have a good resume or a great business idea. So throw yourself into networking without complexes!