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More thoughts on networking

Hi, I’m Paul Green and I’m sharing some of my secrets of networking with you. I’ve been networking for over 15 years now, and I’ve established what many people say is the most relaxed networking group in Northamptonshire – NN Connect.

In my first blog I asked you should you build in time for networking, and I hope I’ve persuaded some of you to start a strategy to get out and about meeting new people.  You will reap the rewards.

 

In this blog, I’m focusing on the preparation you will need to do, giving and receiving, and your follow up.

Networking is more than just turning up. Firstly, prepare.

What kind of impression do you want to make? Think about how you present yourself – my advice is to dress ‘up’, as you can always take a jacket off. It’s much tougher to fit in if you are casually dressed, and those around you are suited and booted.

Be mentally prepared – arrive in time, avoid looking at phone messages that may affect your state, and be happy. We want to speak with a relaxed, happy person. Spend a moment focused on breathing, and then walk in confidently.

 

Have something to GIVE when you go out networking.  We love people who give us stuff – advice, a laugh, a connection, a great book to read, a TED talk…

Compare:

“I am the Training Manager for Big Sandwich company.”, with

“I’m the Training Manager for Big Sandwich Company. We make the sandwiches that you eat if you shop in {name of store}. One of the projects I’ve recently worked on is upskilling all our Managers to be able to coach their staff. I’ve learned lots as we’ve gone through this, so let me know if you’d like to learn from our journey.”

 

What STORY do you have? One of the oldest methods of teaching is story telling. So, if you want to truly teach people what you do, have a story ready.

Compare:

“I am a Business Coach at Small Biz Coaching”, with

“I have my own company, Small Biz Coaching, and I and am a Business Coach. You know how tough it can be to run your own company? – well, I provide other small business owners with the chance to take a step back and work ON their business, and not IN their business. For example, do you know Fred at Magic Carpets? Well, I’ve enabled him to double sales….”

 

What would you like to RECEIVE? If you don’t ask, you don’t get….

“I’m looking for Thomas DiSC qualified coaches to help me with a large client…”

“I am redesigning our appraisal system and wondered if there is anyone out there who could inspire me with ideas of what’s new..”

“I have a friend whose son wants to be an accountant, and they would like work experience in a local accountancy company…”

“I have a dysfunctional team at work and I need an external to help me get them working together…”

“Does anyone have a social media learning policy I could have?”

 

The follow up

 

Lastly, one of the weakest things people do is to return to their desk from their networking event, and get straight on with their ‘work’. DON’T!

Make your time out networking count by connecting with each person you’ve met on social media, sending an invite to meet for a coffee, or sending an email to them. Open up a simple database and record who you’ve met, when, what you discussed and any help they would like. You can then start connecting people.

You’ll be a networker yet, my friends.

 

Paul Green is a local businessman and advisor to small business owners since 2003. He is an author, has featured as a guest blogger and writer in magazines and recently became a Sage Business Expert. As well as being accredited by the Institute for Independent Business, since August 2012 he has successfully grown NN coNNect to be a supportive community of local businesses where the emphasis is on business growth.

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