Most people love socialising, but mention networking and they become uncomfortable – and even more seem to be unsure of how to network.
December’s Young MCA event ‘Making Networking Work’ was presented by Lee Warren, a professional motivational speaker and a leading London magician. The session focused on how to make networking a valuable and enjoyable experience for everyone, along with the opportunity to put some of what was discussed into action!
Start thinking about networking now
One point that really hit home was when Lee asked everyone in the room if there was anyone else involved in each of us being offered our first job, whatever that job was, i.e. word of mouth, family friend etc. Nearly everybody in the room put their hand up, which just goes to show that you cannot start thinking about networking early enough.
Counter-intuitively, it is most likely that the loose ties, i.e those in your network that you don’t know very well, that will provide you with more valuable opportunities as these ties can open doors to entirely new networks that have little overlap to your own. So in order to network effectively, we should aim to cultivate many weak ties and maintain them. A key measure from Lee was to be open-minded, as you never know when someone in your network will come in handy.
A large proportion of the discussion was based around LinkedIn and how to use it, reflecting the recurring focus on the digital age we are currently in. The way we work and communicate is changing – business cards may soon be a thing of the past and technological networking should be embraced.
Prepare for networking events
Work out what you want to get out of the event and do your research, if you know who is attending then you can target your networking to ensure you make the connections you need to. Also ask the host for help with finding those you want to meet.
Finally, don’t wait until you are in that elevator with that person you’ve been waiting your whole life to meet to work out what you are going to say. Decide what you are going to say now. Make sure you tell them something interesting about yourself, and tell them what you want – don’t let yourself be forgettable.
Use LinkedIn – if you don’t have credibility offline you don’t have it online.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Elevator Pitch – don’t let yourself be forgettable
Remember people’s names! Listen, comment and repeat.