In addition to adapting and pivoting how we operate in 2020, do we need to adapt how we’re networking?
We here at BOLD Training would argue that networking is one of THE most important things to prioritise when running a small business. Now, what do we mean by networking? It could be as simple as catching up for a coffee with someone you recently connected with on LinkedIn, it could be attending a training event and going into the event with an open mind of who you might meet throughout the day. Networking isn’t always about being focused on your next job or paid work.
Human beings are social, pack / herd animals, we like to feel connected and we like to feel as though we’re part of something, so what better way to feel a part of something than to do exactly that, put yourself in a situation to be a part of a herd or a pack… Be social!
Whether we’re specifically referencing the year, 2020 or whether we’re discussing networking in 2015 or even 2027, successful networking is maintaining the balance of give and take. It is incredibly beneficial to ensure you’re learning as much as possible from your interactions as much as you’re teaching. Take any opportunity to expand your knowledge. Always striving to learn more about people, practicing active listening when meeting people and asking genuine questions to learn more about someone will ensure you’re learning just as much as you’re teaching. Now, teaching isn’t just about teaching someone all about your business and spending your whole conversation selling and talking AT them. We’ve all been in those situations where someone makes all conversations about themselves, right? Were you counting down the days to see them again? (we’re guessing not!) It’s about talking WITH them and sharing information. Teach them about your passions, your values, your ‘why’.
Don’t underestimate the power of a great coffee catch up! Similar to our point earlier about being social, it pays to go into all interactions with an open mind. You may have been invited to a coffee catch up with someone and think to yourself, “Why would I spend time catching up with them? They’re not going to be a potential client, what am I going to get from it?”… Short answer, you never know who they know. Or, who their friends and their other contacts know. Connecting with someone over a good coffee with great conversation, could go on to influence and grow your brand awareness and result in work for you down the track.
Now what about if you can’t connect and see someone face to face? This is the reality that we live in now. Covid-19 and all that the year 2020 has thrown at us as a society, means that how we have always networked previously, may not be feasible right now or in the immediate future. All of us have adapted in some way when it comes to our day to day lives and networking is just one of those things that we’re having to adapt.
It may mean:
- Less group networking events and more one on one catch ups.
- Less face to face events and more online events.
- Less handshakes and more waves and elbow bumps.
- Less exchanging of business cards but more exchanging of social media handles.
- Less social visits and more phone calls.
Bottom line, networking is more important than ever and yes, it may look slightly different but if you don’t pivot and adapt, you’re going to be left behind by the people still out there and still continuing to grow their network and build on their brand awareness.
What if networking doesn’t come to you naturally? Do you get nervous at the thought of meeting new people? Don’t know how or where to start?
Don’t worry, follow along and pick up some of our BOLD TOP TIPS TO NETWORKING!
1. Start small. You may just start by sending some direct messages to people of businesses on social media. Just to connect and be SOCIAL, remember it may not be a potential client directly, but you never know who they know.
2. Set goals and targets. It could be as simple as setting yourself the target of 1 coffee catch up with a new connection every week. This also applies to group networking events. Set yourself a target of how many people you would like to connect with throughout the event.
3. Have some ‘go to’ conversation starters.
- What brings you here tonight?
- How did you hear about this event?
- Tell me about what it is that you do?
- What do you love about what you do?
4. It also pays to have some statements in your back pocket for when the conversation starts to wrap up. Many people can find it difficult to leave a conversation with someone and remain polite.
- I think the speaker/formalities are about to start. Shall we take our seat?
- I have to catch up with ‘Tony’ before I leave tonight, is there anyone you would like to catch up with?
- I’ve got to run but can I take your business card or connect with you LinkedIn so we can keep in touch?
- Oooh, I’ve just spotted ‘Amanda’ that I have to speak with. I hope you have a great evening.
5. If you’re attending a group event, you could reach out to a few contacts that you have met previously asking if they’re going to be in attendance. This will ensure you are going into the event with purpose. Reaching out to someone specific online, prior to the event, could also bridge the gap between approaching someone you’ve never met face to face. It feels less confronting if you have someone specific that you would like to meet.
So, networking in 2020, it’s remains to be as important as ever, remember to always maintain the balance of give and take, go into every interaction with an open mind and never underestimate the power of a great coffee with great conversation.
To learn more about all that we do here at BOLD Training, send us an email today at ‘email@example.com’.