5th June 2012
How to network in your career and for your business
Networking has become an incredibly significant part of business life. Whether you’re climbing the career ladder or running your own business; it can help you to move through the business ranks, find suppliers and staff and glean information about your competitors.
As the importance of networking has grown, so too have avenues for networking, especially groups aimed at ambitious women. Business Chicks, Heads over Heels and Little Black Dress Group are just some of the networking groups aimed at females. We also launched a networking community, Women in Focus, which helps to connect successful – and aspiring – businesswomen and share knowledge about best practices in business.
We spoke to Emma Isaacs, chief chick at Business Chicks and the publisher of Latte Magazine about the best way to approach networking.
Why is networking important for your career and your business?
“Most opportunities come through people you know. ‘People you know’ is just another way of saying networking. It’s crucial to invest time to build relationships and contacts in your career and business so you can be available for these opportunities when they arise. Networking is really just about two things – being liked and giving value to others. If you can master these two things, you’ll be on your way to becoming an expert networker,” says Isaacs. Remember, people give business to people they enjoy working with!
What’s the most effective way to network?
Isaccs says the advent of social networking has made it easy to meet people. “By meeting online, you cut corners and get to those you’re looking to build a relationship with very quickly. But it’ll only get you so far. It’s important to meet in person and actually eyeball your contacts. There’s nothing like meeting in person to build a relationship and understand another person’s motives – you can read body language and interpret a lot from meeting in person. One thing I love to do is get together in groups, so I’ll take a table of ten at an event which achieves leverage – instead of having to have one on one coffees, I can meet, network with, and entertain ten people at once.”
What are some of the best avenues for networking?
Aside from formal networking groups, Emma recommends finding networking events with high profile speakers who have valuable knowledge to share. “Also invest time in a good LinkedIn profile and ask your colleagues and friends which networking events they’d recommend,” she says. Remember that professional introductions, just like word of mouth recommendations through friends and colleagues, are often more powerful than meeting people cold in a networking arena. So if someone you know, knows someone you want to know, get them to put you in touch.
Emma Isaacs’ six top networking strategies
1. Before each event request a guest list from the organisers so you know who you want to meet at the event.
2. Never get stuck with someone – learn how to excuse yourself from a conversation.
3. Be present with everyone you meet – never be looking over your shoulder for someone else more interesting who might be approaching.
4. Think of them, and not you. Always be asking yourself, ”How could I help them? What might they need?”
5. Remember the details – people’s kids’ names, favourite books or favourite restaurant – and when appropriate, use them.
6. Always follow up. Always. Try to send a handwritten note, or at worst an email.
What’s your best networking tip?