Do you know how to be a good networker? I remember when I was in business school, I kept hearing how we all need to become a “good networker.“ What exactly does that mean?
Coincidentally, my personal New Years resolution for 2020 is to “get out there with real people in real life.” Apparently, that is exactly what great networkers do! But there’s more…
Let’s do this!
?FIRST – The PODCAST
For this episode on HOW TO BE A GOOD NETWORKER, I interviewed seasoned executive recruiter Sharon Mah-Gin.
Perhaps not so randomly, I met Sharon through a work-related group that we both belonged to. Sharon is highly-networked. She is also a go-getter with lots of energy, with lots of great stories, as you will hear!!!
(Tell me, after listening to Sharon, don’t you want to go out for dinner with her? Not just to hear her ask her infamous Q to the waiter…?)
Sharon generously shares tactical and actionable networking advice in this episode. She also highlights how our general networking mindset is critical. Three important networking mindsets:
1️⃣ Networking is about an EXCHANGE or RECIPROCALITY
- Networking is a mutual exchange of information, contacts, and ideas.You must offer value (e.g. information about your firm/ industry or access to your network).
- The biggest networking mistake people make is not offering anything in exchange. Selfish networking doesn’t work!
2️⃣People are BUSY
- It’s tough to get on people’s calendars. It’s not personal. (That’s partly why the exchange point is so critical.)
3️⃣ How to be a good networker? It’s a LIFE-LONG endeavour!
- Networking is not just for when you’re looking for a job.
- Whether you’re a student, a young employee, or if your career is well-established, we all need to get out of our comfort zones and network. As Sharon says, your network can be your competitive point of difference. You never stop networking.
Do you have a LinkedIn account? Most people fall into one of 3 categories:
- No LinkedIn Account – “That’s just for people who are job searching.”
- Have a rarely updated LinkedIn account – “Yah, I’m on LinkedIn. I never really check it.”
- Have an updated LinkedIn account – “Yes! LinkedIn is how to be a good networker!”
Here’s the thing:
LinkedIn has evolved
from a job-searching tool
to a NETWORKING tool.
LinkedIn is like a BUSINESS CARD on steroids:
- Think of LinkedIn as a business card and a resume with everything you want to share. (Yes, make it publicly available!) You can provide all the details about you and your career that you want to share.
- When you meet someone at an event, you can connect with them immediately &/or after the event via LinkedIn.
- You can reference mutual connections to initiate conversations.
- Use the photos to remember what people look like!
HOW TO BE A GOOD NETWORKER AT EVENTS
Unsplash | @ productschool
Attending IRL (in real life) events is also EFFICIENT!
- Instead of meeting with someone for coffee for an hour, you can meet with multiple people, all at one event.
- Sharon highlights: It’s the hour before the main event where the real networking happens!
- These events include industry associations, conferences, cocktail parties, galas,…
- Volunteering for a leadership role in an industry association helps both in terms of networking and by providing another line on our resume!
But what if you dread SMALL TALK?
5 Tips for Surviving & Thriving at Small Talk:
- You don’t have to do much talking. Just ask Qs and listen!
- Follow the ABCDEs of Communication:
- A = Ask Qs
- B = Breathe – slow deep breathes.
- C = act Confident. Even if you don’t feel confident.
- D = no Distractions. Focus.
- E – use your Ears, listen.
- Approach groups with an odd number of people. It’s easier to integrate into a group of 3 or 5 people, versus a group of 2 or 4.
- Go to these events with a friend. Your friend can bring up all of your amazing accomplishments without you sounding arrogant, right? They can also rescue you when you need to move on to talk to someone else.
- If you go to a networking event with friends, don’t take the easy way out and hang out with the people you already know! Mingle! Sit at a different table! Then follow the ABCDEs!
More on SMALL TALK
Have you joined the Talk About Talk private Facebook group yet? Every month we focus on one communication skill. So far we’ve covered:
- asking Qs
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Chief Talker & Communication Coach