In our modern dynamic world, we are all involved in networking. Even if you think you aren’t, you just don’t know that you are. You are involved in networking every time you call your friend to find out the phone number of his lawyer, or when you tag your acquaintance under a post on Facebook where someone is looking for a designer, or when your colleague tells you about an interesting hobby group that his or her child attends and the next day you bring your child to that club. All these actions and an array of other situations that lead to interactions between people who have never interacted before – this is networking in its wide sense.
In addition to the fact that it plays a significant role in our everyday life, for most professions today networking is an irreplaceable tool and an integral part of their working life. But how can we build a successful and wide network of useful contacts? We asked Krystyna Redko, a Customer Relationship Manager from [bvblogic] company. She has been working in Sales in IT for 6 years. During this time, Krystyna has visited dozens of conferences, meetings and other events in different countries. Such events always create perfect conditions and plenty of possibilities for networking, although, hardly ever can a freshman reach the same success as an old hand, who knows plenty of life hacks, knows how not to fail in difficult situations and has the right mood and spirit. So, here we have gathered useful words of advice from Krystyna.
Step out of your comfort zone.
It is quite obvious, and we should never forget to actually do it. Try to communicate with somebody from outside your company, visit some events, talk to some interesting people. Don’t be shy or arrogant, be initiative in starting a conversation with different people. We often underestimate our knowledge and skills. ‘How to talk to the CEO of a huge company?’ – this question may cause inexperienced people to panic. But you should look at it this way – a CEO is an ordinary person just like you. It is always possible to find a common topic with any person, you just need to try.
Try to talk to many different people. For you it would add to your experience, contribute to your communicative skills, enhance your self-confidence. By the way, you never know who can be useful for you in the future, so all new contacts are good!
You should be clear about who you are and what you do.
Strange as it may seem, some people, when you start asking them, can’t describe specifically the activities of their company and their own role and functions in it. Try to think about it carefully and systematize all the information about the benefits of your company and in what respect your work there is useful.
Besides, it makes sense to divide your potential audience into separate groups and think of what can be interesting for each group. For instance, you are a marketing manager and you are going to talk to an HR manager of a great company you would like to work in. Then you can talk about a promo you have made that brought 1000 sales in a week. At the same time, this kind of information is useless when you talk to a potential partner of your company, in this case you’d better speak about the advantages and expertise of your company. When you want to tell your interlocutor about something, try to be specific and give clear examples. Instead of general phrases about your significance, give some specific numbers that prove the efficiency of your product/company/solution. Prepare such kind of information in advance.
Share your recommendations and be helpful.
We are selling something all the time: our skills, our product, our company, etc. But you should forget about it when you communicate with people. If you speak to a potential client, stop thinking about what you are trying to sell, try to be useful and helpful, think of the needs of this person and about how you can help him/her at this moment for free. And it is very important to do it sincerely. If you are talking to a client and seeing money in front of you instead of him/her, that is not going to work. What you really need is to establish strong and honest relationship, it will bring much more common benefit to both of you in the future.
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Don’t make quick conclusions and subjective judgments about the people you don’t know yet. When you meet a new person, a tiny part of his/her potential, knowledge, talent opens up for you. It will take much more time than one meeting to know this person better. So you never know how talented and promising a person in front of you is. That’s why, again, all new contacts are good. When you meet a person – think of him/her in a good way by default. You don’t know who will become your client or partner or a part of your team in the future.
It’s good to keep connected with new people which are important to you. Remind people of yourself with some regularity but don’t be too bothering. You can send greetings on holidays, ask about what is new in their life, congratulate on some achievements, etc. Otherwise, people can simply forget about you.
Constantly grow and develop.
Follow the latest news and current trends, read more, attend thematic lectures and conferences, practice your communicative skills, this will help you to be able to keep conversations and to avoid unpleasant pauses. By the way, it is very important to constantly improve your foreign languages. Even if the level of your foreign language is Advanced, without regular practice it will deteriorate with the passage of time. Do not miss the opportunity to communicate with foreigners in their language, keep attending foreign language courses, read foreign books in original, write in foreign language, start learning a new foreign language!
Social networks. This is a tool which simplifies our lives hugely. It has never been so easy to follow the lives of people which are important to us. Facebook will tell you by itself about all important events in the life of other people and you will always stay updated. So, for instance, if you have met someone at the conference, don’t hesitate to send him/her a friend request on the social network. It would be a good channel for further communication. You won’t miss important events from his/her life and will constantly have a reason to follow up this person.
Social networks are also useful while preparing to some conferences or meetings. For example, if you are going to a conference where you want to meet a CEO of a great corporation, find his profile on Facebook and you will find out about his interests and lifestyle, and about what is really important to him. It will help you to start an interesting conversation. Maybe you both are fond of football, or you are both mounting climbers, or maybe last summer you went to the same exotic resort. On the basis of the gathered information, it will definitely be easy to predict interesting topics for this person
Share your hobbies and interests.
You are always interesting to other people when you have sparks in your eyes. We all have some hobbies, something we get inspiration from. If you demonstrate your true interests you will easily find like-minded people.
Stop seeing a CEO, an HR manager, or a client in front of you. Start seeing an ordinary person, who is interesting and unique, and try to just have a pleasant conversation. Then you will look natural and honest. Be yourself, people like it.
And to sum up, we would like to use one of the favourite sayings of our CEO Vitaliy Rodymiuk: “Networking has to become a lifestyle. It significantly helps you not only in work but in your everyday life”. And we think this is really true. So, let’s network!