It’s difficult to know if you’re networking ‘right.’ But what’s the point of that growing stack of business cards if nothing comes out of it?
And if we can’t measure it, how can we be sure networking is so valuable anyway?
What we do know is that it’s not just drinks and water cooler talk. Great networking is a business tool that helps us reach more clients, gain knowledge and business growth and increase profits. By talking to different people, we can learn important lessons from other people’s successes and failures, and share our own. With all of those benefits, it’s just part of the deal in business and entrepreneurship. Networking should be daily and deliberate because hate it or love it, you know it’s got to be done.
Now the question becomes HOW to make the most of your interactions. Read on for a compilation of the best tips and tricks to make sure you get the most out of any of your connections, whether it’s a business meeting, someone you meet out and about or a stranger on the street!
Even though you mean business, it pays to be friendly
80% of jobs aren’t published, which means that making real and meaningful connections, not just superficial surface connections are imperative to getting that dream job. Find common interests with your speed date and interact with them on a two way street basis, how can we help each other to succeed?
That way, you will become more than just a business card added to the pile after a meeting. You’ll become a memorable and friendly potential connection or colleague who people will talk about in their own network. You’ll make them invest in continuing to grow the relationship, into a rewarding connection for everyone involved!
Listen to what the person across from you has to say…
Listening is an underrated skill. When you sit down to network and first start forming positive, exciting interactions, it’s important to ensure you aren’t doing all the talking. The key to being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. If you are asking for the opinion or advice from the person across the table from you, make sure you give them an opportunity to respond, you may also be able to add great value and perspective to their work by listening to what they have to say.
Often, people with great knowledge and lots of ideas will hold back what they know if they presume you aren’t really interested in what they have to say, so perfect the skill of genuinely listening.
Start by asking some of the following questions to get your interactions rolling:
- How long have you been in this field?
- What do you like or dislike about your job?
- What type of training did you need for this position?
- What is the culture of this company?
Perfect your pitch!
Any day, any time, you could be asked what you’re all about, what your goals are and what you’re working on. By perfecting your pitch, you will establish professionalism, gain credibility and cover all the bases – every time you make a connection.
Here are 3 hot tips that you can use to make sure you pitch yourself like a pro:
- WHAT is it that you do? What is the job role or function of the position that you are currently in or want to be in that has driven you to come to Icebreaker18?
- PASSION! Why do you do what you do? or why do you have the drive to make what you want to do in the future come to life? Do you love connecting communities, do you thrive on providing amazing customer service or do you find fulfillment in helping others around you?
- HOW do you do what you do? Do you work in a particular organisation that drives your initiative, do you have a great source of backing or are you well connected in that particular industry?
Tidy up your socials, before your connections head home and look you up!
Whilst social media particularly LinkedIn, is a great tool to network with business professionals, keep in mind it is also a great way for potential employers or investors to find out more about you. Right now, open your socials. How would they look to the outside eye?
It’s simple – make sure your social media profiles are up to date. If you have a LinkedIn account, ensure that all details match your resume and experience – employers use social media to ensure they are hiring a reputable employee and your new connection will use it to check your credibility.
LinkedIn has more than 467 million users. It’s the world’s largest professional network – more than two people joining every second. Make sure your profile is telling the right story – and while you’re at it, sharpen up your Insta, FB, Medium, Twitter, Reddit, Bumble…
Follow up, follow up, follow up!
If you’ve made a connection you want to build on, create reasons to stay in touch. You could send through articles on topics you spoke about, ask for feedback on projects, ideas and work or send an email or make a call to check in on how they are progressing with their own projects. This will strengthen your rapport and ensure you’re at the top of their mind when exciting opportunities present themselves.
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Ready to put it all into practice? That’s where Icebreaker18 comes in.
Icebreaker18 returns after its extremely successful inception in 2016. Launching into the tail-end of 2018, it’s back, bigger, better and smarter than ever before. This year, we’ve transformed Icebreaker into so much more than just an event. Now, it’s a networking platform, designed to help every single person get more out of their connections.
How it works: Innovation connections are made through speed dates between innovators and enterprise using data science developed by the wizards at Spiral Data. Icebreaker18 will delve deeper into each participant’s data, to create even more meaningful matches.
The inaugural Icebreaker16 brought over 1,200 networkers to the Tonsley Innovation Precinct MAB, where it will be held again for Icebreaker18. The impact of Icebreaker16 exceeded all expectations with the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute estimating a $2.9 million surplus out of the event of forward value for the state, and this year the aim is to top that figure. So, what are you waiting for? Take your seat across from the connection that could make your year.