5 easy ways to make networking more effective ... and more enjoyable!

22 Jun 2018

I’ve spent a lot of this week helping various solicitors, patent attorneys and accountants to identify the right networking vehicles for them so it’s as easy as possible for them to meet useful new contacts.  While the clients were all very different and interested in meeting totally different people there were a few common themes that came out.  I thought it may be useful to share those with you:


1  Invest in the preparation


Take some time out to have a look at what events are out there rather than just accepting whatever invites are being circulated around your firm or Chambers.  The general rule of thumb is the easier an event it to find, the more likely it’ll be that the audience will largely be made up of your competitors.


Finding new events isn’t an arduous process.  Websites and apps like Eventbrite are fairly comprehensive and really easy to use (you can even sign up at a single click when you see something you like).  Failing that, a quick Google search will uncover even more by using the key search terms most relevant to you preferred audience.


And don’t be afraid to ask clients, colleagues and contacts what they think.  Their feedback will help you pair down your findings down even more.


2  Do what suits you


Your number 1 objective when networking is to give as positive an impression of yourself as you can so people actually want to pass opportunities to you.  In order to do that apply 3 simple filters when it comes to choosing the right event/s for you –


- Is it the right audience?

- Is it the right time of day?  (Are you better at breakfast, over lunch or after work?)

- Is it the right format? (Do you like to be sat down with people or do you prefer to walk up to people?)


Doing what suits you will make sure you are as comfortable at the event and, by extension, in the conversations you’ll start at the event.  This will immediately make you more likely to leave that all important positive impression and more likely to get the best return from the time and effort you’ve invested.


3  Don’t get hung up on formal events


While more professional events are a proven way to meet new contacts, don’t discount events or groups built around your personal interests.  We’ve seen fantastic results when people have signed up to do something they enjoy (cookery, wine tasting, gin tasting or bridge) or when the events they’ve chosen have incorporated some sort of shared activity (crazy golf, cocktail making, darts or table football).


Again, the more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more relaxed you’ll be and the more relaxed you are, the better impression you’ll make on your new contacts.   


4  Commit to 1 or 2 events


Don’t spread yourself thin across a number of events.  Choose 1 or 2 and go to as many meetings as you can.  Every time you go you will know more people so you can pick up on your previous conversation and rely on them to introduce you to more attendees (without you having to introduce yourself cold).


Moreover, referrals won’t happen there and then; you have to build up a level of trust before people are comfortable enough to put your name in the frame  


And remember, everyone you meet will have their own professional and personal networks around them.  So, even if you are not getting direct referrals from the regulars, you will be positioning yourself for introductions to their wider contacts.


5  If you don’t like the person, don’t follow up!


People only ever refer work to people they like and trust.  If that ‘click’ doesn’t happen and you find the person you’re talking to hard work, don’t do any more than LinkIn with them afterwards and say hello at future vents because it is unlikely the necessary spark will suddenly ignite. 


Instead, focus your follow up on the people you did like as they will be much more likely to make things happen for you in the future.


We have covered some of these points and many more in our new CoffeeCast podcast ‘What does networking actually mean?’ so, if you’d like more tips about how to make your networking more effective and more enjoyable, give it a listen.

Posted by Douglas  |   0 Comments

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