It’s always a bit of a joke in the office when I go to a networking event that it’s referred to as ‘Not-working’…
The problem with networking is that you will only get out what you put in. Most people go along because they are asked to by a colleague or a boss, and actually hate the thought of having to make small talk with strangers, having to talk about their own business or the one they work for.
What we forget quite quickly, is that everyone is in the same boat, we all have the same concerns and the same agenda. The problem arises when people try to sell when they are networking. I’m a bit weird in the sense that I really enjoy networking (probably because I’m insanely nosey!). I find people fascinating and I love trying to help people, I guess that’s down to the years I spent in recruitment!
The Unwritten Rules of Networking
To answer the question, Networking is working and can be a lot of fun, but who said work can’t be enjoyable? There are some unwritten rules that make it work well for you and guarantee a repeat invitation;
- Don’t rehearse a script
- Talk to people you don’t know (that’s what you are there for!)
- Don’t judge people on the first meeting
- Try and think how you can help people (if you like them)
- Don’t sell!
- Last but not least, be yourself
In my experience, it’s been important to be loyal to 1 or 2 groups as this is how people will get to know you, start to trust you and maybe even introduce you to their clients. You don’t necessarily want to work with the people in the room, so don’t be short sighted. You need to think about their networks and their clients. If you gain their trust they might go out of their way to help you.