Today’s post is all about… networking! Networking is a funny one. It has some negative associations… what stories have you told yourself? “I’m no good at networking” “Networking is all about selling yourself/ your business” Does that sound familiar?
What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be that way? I like to see networking as an opportunity to make a new business-friend. Maybe you can help them, maybe they can help you, but ultimately, it’s meeting with someone who is going through or has gone through the same situation as yourself.
I’ve been to several networking events in the past weeks, and I must say I really enjoy it. I love to connect with people (it’s one of my core values!), I like finding out about their experiences, and I particularly like helping people – sharing my own knowledge or experience or helping them in a professional capacity (support being another of my core values).
I attended a networking event just this morning with the Fingal Chamber and Fingal LEO where they mentioned the importance of networking, and especially using those companies for networking events and opportunities. There are lots of events happening locally, especially this week for Local Enterprise Week.
Top tips for networking:
- Go on your own! I don’t care how hard it is… if you go with someone you know, you are likely to stay chatting and catching up with them instead of putting yourself out there and making new friends
- Ask people about themselves – people love talking about themselves! How did you get into this line of work? What are you really passionate about? Who do you help?
- Find out what events are happening in the local area – I have attended information sessions run by global businesses, events run by the local enterprise office, young entrepreneurs networking events, I’ve got chatting to people in the most random of places
- Set yourself targets for meeting new people. It sounds very clinical but it’s a nice way to force yourself to expand your circle. Something as simple as reaching out to one new person a week (online or in person), speaking to three new people at an event etc.
- It’s important to get yourself out there “in real life” but online networks can be a good way to connect with new people too. I have joined several Facebook and LinkedIn groups to meet new people and so far they are working out well.
- If it’s something you are daunted by, you can be assured that other people are feeling a bit daunted by it as well. There’s no need to be self-conscious, you are the expert in your own life, passions and businesses, and as mentioned above, people like to talk about themselves, so ask them!
- Don’t forget to follow up! “It was nice to meet you” text or email and arrange to meet for coffee.
- Don’t underestimate the power of the network you already have… friends and family, ex-colleagues, local and global – they can help out, spread the word, provide support, and recommend you to their network