By Kate Smith
Do you struggle at events where you don’t know anyone? Do you attend events intentionally to meet someone specific or who can assist you?
At all stages of your career it is important that you build and maintain your network. Your network is people you meet who may assist with your career and business development. Your network may help with a project, provide advice, introduce you to someone, or they may think of you when they hear of a job opportunity you’re suited to.
Your network may include: current and past colleagues, friends and people you know socially who know what is going on in particular organisations and industries, former secondary school friends and people you met while doing tertiary study.
You can increase your network by meeting and being introduced to relevant people. Attend relevant events and connect with people on social media; LinkedIn is perfect for business networks. Ensure you follow up with people you meet who may be able to assist you.
Networking is a skill you can develop with practice – the more networking you do, the easier it will become. Here are some tips to help:
• Before you attend an event, make a plan and prepare your elevator speech; be able to describe yourself and your business clearly and concisely.
• Determine what you want to achieve from the event; who do you want to meet, and what do you want to educate people about?
• While at events watch and listen to others to find out what techniques people use, and what suits you.
• Be positive; you want to be someone who people want to talk to again.
• Follow up after the event. When following up be mindful and respect the time of the person you are meeting.
Maintain your network by keeping in touch. Share information, keep up-to-date, ask for relevant introductions and introduce people as required.
Do you intentionally go to networking events to help develop your career? What conversation starters do you use? We’d love to hear from you.