Perhaps you go to a lot of networking nights and perhaps you don’t. Some find the concept of a networking night a slightly foreign concept and getting turned off by the idea of really having to put themselves out there amongst a group of people they don’t know. However, networking doesn’t have to daunting, especially when it can open many doors- for you and the person you swop business cards. So we wanted to put together the 5 ways for you to get the most out of your networking night.
- Be Approachable
There is absolutely no point going into a networking night if you’re going to have a face like a slapped arse. Body language counts for everything and if you stand there with your arms folded you’re immediately signalling to everyone you don’t want to be there. If you’re finding the event uncomfortable, there is usually someone there to hand out glasses of water or alcohol. It gives you something to hold so you don’t feel like you’re standing there like a lemon. If you can muster a friendly, open facial expression even if you’re hesitant to make the first move it will allow for others to feel they can approach you.
- Be Helpful
Networking serves as a two-way street. Everyone has similar reasons to go and therefore if someone is helping you, you should also be on hand to help others if they seek you out. People value other people’s help and whilst they may not be a relevant individual in your life now, later down the line they will remember your willingness to help, which could do wonders when you’re next looking for an introduction.
- Know Why You’re Networking & Communicate That Clearly
Whether you’re there to find a developer, seek investment or just to gain some new connections, be clear on the reasons why you’re there in order to get the most out of being present. You want it to be communicated to those you chat to concisely, as whilst they may not be the person you’re looking for they may know someone who is. Don’t miss the boat by bumbling an ambiguous answer.
- Build Long Lasting Relationships
Whilst people you meet at networking events aren’t your colleagues or your friends, there is no harm in keeping good relations. A simple thank you the following day shows politeness and thoughtfulness. It also means that in a year’s time if you suddenly remember they’d be a good person to contact, you aren’t having to awkwardly message by saying ‘Dear X, You may not remember me but…’. It doesn’t look particularly genuine and they may not feel so inclined to reply.
- Be a Good Listener
Finally ensure you listen to others. If you’re not listening to others you will just be remembered as rude and self-serving. If someone has the common curtesy to listen to you, then be sure to show them the same respect. Networking is about connecting the dots; if you’re listening to someone’s needs you may find that it’s you who can give them the answer.
Networking is a great tool to gain contacts you didn’t have before. We really advise going with an open mind (and business cards) and a willingness to listen and help. You just never know when a connection you’ve struck up at a networking night will turn into the positive force in your working life that you’ve always been looking for.
Twenty Mile Club