The art of networking, Part 2: Making introductions and beneficial contacts
In my last post, I suggested that networking was a skill in business, or in one’s career, that can be mastered. In some cases, executive coaching clients of mine have had networking commitments expected of them as part of a new role/promotion, and have consequently been forced to ‘hit the ground running’ – a situation which only increased any inherent concerns or nervousness.
Effective networking takes time and practice
There are many professional bodies offering networking opportunities and which arrange networking events. To feel truly confident when attending takes practice; rather than throwing yourself in at the deep end with a sudden flurry and a full calendar, before burning out altogether within a short period of time, aim to attend a couple of meetings per month so that networking becomes part of your natural working pattern.
We’re only human…
We spoke last time about the preparation you can do before arriving at the event. Researching who is likely to be attending means they’re already familiar to you before introductions are made, which can douse the panic some people feel when surrounded by new faces.
The main thing to remember is to keep it simple. What I mean by this, is to remember that everyone in the room is a fellow human, who is far more concerned with how they come across themselves than scrutinising anything you do or say.
It can be nerve-wracking if you’ve never attended a networking event before but just be honest. Contact the host or organiser of the event beforehand and let them know that you’re new to networking. Ask if they can help introduce you to people in the room on arrival. Most hosts will personally take you under their wing if they know you’re unused to attending such events, or assign another experienced networker to ‘shadow’ you and help you get acquainted with both the process and other attendees.
Seek those in the same position
If, however, you find that you’re left to your own devices, look for others in the room that are also on their own – they’ll most probably be as nervous as you, and will welcome your approach. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know anyone; networking brings people from all walks of life together, and there’s usually a new face at each meeting, so you’re likely to be in good company in this respect. Just being honest will help both of you feel more at ease.
You may attend a group where you are the only new face, and it can be unnerving to see everyone in the room chatting away, already in a ‘huddle’. If you’re unsure or nervous about approaching a group of people already in conversation, just be honest and courteous. Smile, and ask: “May I join you?” – they’re hardly likely to refuse. Mention that it’s your first time; most people will introduce themselves and/or those around you.
Some of my executive coaching clients, depending on their role and industry, can find they’ve risen through the ranks without being required to network; it can be nerve-wracking for anyone new to the process. For help with confidence and career coaching issues like these, contact me on 01302 220221.
In my next post, I’ll cover effective conversations and offer tips on how to forge useful contacts once introductions have been made.
Thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for use of the images.
- Posted in: Career Coaching ♦ Executive Coaching
- Tagged: approaching a group, Business, conversation, conversation topics, effective networking, emotional intelligence, executive coaching, handshake, introductions, listening, living CV, Management Coaching, networking, openers, preparation, useful contacts