How To ... Network your way to success

2014-07-03 15:10

Networking is a fact of working life. But how do you tackle it if you’re not a born networking pro?

Karl Smith, author, speaker and founder of Business Networking SA, shares these tips:

» Understand what networking is. “It’s about building long-lasting relationships and not about socialising.” Smith says many people make the mistake of getting to an event and trying to hand out their business cards to as many people as possible. “The real networking happens after the first meeting. Follow up with your new contact. Meet for drinks or coffee. You can’t expect that giving out your business card will be enough.”

» Be strategic. “Decide what you need and find the people who can help you.” Smith says when networking for business or personal reasons, be strategic about the events you attend. “Make sure you attend events that are in line with your career and personal needs, so you can meet the right people to network with. If it won’t take you to your objective, don’t do it.”

» When networking at an event, avoid “blah, blah, and yada, yada.” Develop a crisp business pitch that is between 30-60 seconds long. Practise it so that when you are asked what you do, you don’t go on too long. “Make it interesting.”

» Appearances are everything. “Don’t ever let people know that you are unsuccessful or are struggling.” No one likes working with people who seem to be having a rough time. “Instead of saying you are unemployed; rather say you are in the market for new opportunities.”

» Listen and be helpful. Don’t approach a person with the intention of selling or pitching something to them. “Listen in order to help or try adding value to the person.” Make them feel like you are also interested in their business or ventures.

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