Why successful entrepreneurs and career high flyers network and why you should too!

When it comes to networking most students & graduates run a mile! But the truth is networking is essential to career and business success.

Here’s why successful entrepreneurs and career high flyers network professionally and why you should too:

  • Networking Leads to Professional Relationships: Networking is all about creating mutually beneficial relationships with people who you can support and with people who can support you! It’s about creating a team of people who are proud promoters of you, your business and your career.
  • Professional Relationships Lead to Personal & Business Success: As members of your team, your professional enthusiasts will often support you in making your personal dreams and business ambitions come true. Whether it’s raising money to climb Kilimanjaro, fast tracking your career or business to the next level or securing that all-important business deal your network is there to support you.

Seven Top Tips to Networking Effectively:

1)     Preparation is Key! Knowing who you want to support and who you want to support you is essential to creating a solid professional network. Creating a network of mutually beneficial connections, will lead to lasting successful professional relationships.

2)     Know Where to Find Them! Do your research, if you’re interested in meeting other entrepreneurs start attending university enterprise activities, entrepreneurial award ceremonies or events such as Start Up Britain Events.   If you want to work within a specific industry begin attending professional body events, company sponsored lunches and informal networking events.

3)     Plan What to Say and Who to Speak to! Once you have chosen the type of people you want on your networking team and you know where to find them, you need to plan what to say and who to speak to. Knowing what to say is easily planned. Simply introduce yourself, tell them a little bit about what you do and begin to find commonalties. Remember the aim of networking is to create a relationship; don’t fall in to the trap of simply pitching your skills, product or service.

Knowing who to speak to is, however, a little trickier. Sometimes event organisers will provide you with a list of attendees and the company they are representing. Identify from the list which attendees you want on your team and then track them down (by reading the name on their badge) and say hello.  If a list isn’t available talk to somebody you think has approachable body language and go from there.

4)     Be the first to say hello! Taking the initiative to say the first hello not only breaks the ice it also illustrates to those around you that you’re a friendly, sociable, approachable person. Somebody they too would like to get to know. Someone who has the communication skills to promote them or their business. It also shows confidence in who you are and/or the business you are promoting.

5)     People are just people! Once networking use effective communication skills to develop rapport and a level of trust. Relax, use welcoming body language and ask people questions (why are they there, what they do etc.) Remember networking is about creating mutually beneficial relationships not just selling your skills, product or service; by asking people questions you can effectively respond to commonalities when they arise.

6)     Say Thank You! If someone you meet at the event introduces you to someone else they think it would be beneficial for you to know, thank them! People like to know their efforts have been appreciated and chances are they will introduce you to other people too.

7)     Keep in Touch! After the event you will hopefully have a pile of business cards from people who want to be on your team. Take time to write down (on the back of the business card) who each person was, what information they shared with you, who they would like to get to know, how can you help them and how can they help you. Then send them a ‘nice to meet you’ email followed up by emails that help them achieve their professional and personal ambitions. Note: collecting business cards is not the aim; creating a team of useful professional contacts is.

Exercise:

1)     Make a list of people who are currently in your team, what you can do for them and what they can do for you. For instance, do you already know somebody who could help find you a summer internship, graduate position or work experience? Contact those who are already part of your team and ask them to support your personal and business aspirations and find out how you support them.

2)     Make a list of the type of people you want on your team and begin to make a list of events and places where you could find them.

So what are you waiting for? Book yourself on to a networking event and begin to develop your professional relationships!