Ever been in room full of chattering people none of whom you know? You were probably clutching a warm glass of wine eating all the crisps and desperately seeking out a friendly face? Here are five tips which will not only help you be one of the chattering people but also build you a great network.
1. Walk around groups of people and listen in
Inevitably people will be talking about something. Eavesdrop and then if it is interesting and relevant catch the eye of a listener, move in, introduce yourself and comment on the conversation. You will never be rejected.
2. Forget your personal agenda BUT make an impression
Most people attend events to gain something. Make it your goal to be open friendly and to make connections between people who may be able to help each other. Generosity is an attractive quality and it's something special that people will remember about you.
3. Never dismiss anyone as unimportant
There will be a value in every person you meet. Ask questions and listen with interest. They may not be a director but may have valuable connections or knowledge you would never have learned about if you had dismissed them.
4. Remain in contact
Once you have made the connection you must stay in contact. And that does not mean just clicking 'like' on their Facebook or Linked in page. It means actively thinking of ways you can stay top of mind. An email with an interesting and relevant article. Arranging to have a cup of coffee or connecting them with someone or something useful.
5. Think people not positions
Start your network early. Befriend the person who is at the same level as you and good at what they do. Those are the people who will be influencers in 5-10 years time and will be much harder to connect with once they have got there. If you stay in touch it will be easy.
Networking is hard work but if you keep at it you will have something that is hugely valuable.
Networking isn’t an extroverts-only game. Nor does it have to be completely selfish or “fake”. It’s also a lot easier in our increasingly connected world.