Are you a networker or a connector? The difference may appear subtle, but one has far greater impact than the other.
For some, the notion of walking into a room packed with strangers can be a daunting prospect. Yet there is a plethora of research that points to the overwhelming business benefits to be gained by such activities. so, how can you make networking ‘work’ for you and your business?
In our latest Breakfast Seminar, Nicola Rylett from the NRG Group, a consultancy focused on helping business leaders grow. It’s not about ‘networking’, it’s about connecting people. it’s about being more lobster, as Nicola explained.
A lobster has to emerge from its shell around 25 times throughout its lifetime. It needs to continually break out of its comfort zone and seek new opportunities. That’s what we as individuals need to do…often.
Like all good business lessons, acronyms can play a key role and the one Nicola adheres to is VOLTAGE.
V is value – to always add value to the people we meet. To provide expertise, solve problems and demonstrate how you can make a change. So, rather than introduce yourself as ‘Jane – I’m a florist’, try repositioning yourself by the value you add. Rather, you could say, ‘I’m Jane – I help create special memories’.
O is open – to be outward facing and approachable. Too many people attend business events and by their body language (staring at their phone, standing in a closed circle) they close themselves to others. This could be a missed opportunity not just in terms of unearthing new business leads, but also in terms of the perception people gain of you – people who could vouch for you or refer you to someone who does have a need for what you have to offer.
L is laser focused – be prepared for each event beforehand. To get the most out of any business situation, preparation is key. What do you know about the topic being discussed, the speaker or the types of people likely to attend? Knowing these things enable you to confidently strike up conversations with people you meet for the first time. And don’t forget to connect with the people you meet afterwards on social sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter – just don’t try to ‘sell’ your products or services at the first opportunity.
T is for trusted – to develop the right relationships based on understanding what you like, know, like and trust about one another. It’s about building rapport with prospects and clients through making eye contact, smiling, listening and being genuinely interested in the person you are speaking with. People who feel listened to have a more favourable impression of that person and are more likely to reciprocate the support you offer for them.
A is for authenticity – being genuine. Networking is about connecting the dots. By speaking with and listening to people you gain a greater understanding of the challenges they face, their pain points and the ways in which you might be able to provide a solution or at the very least, how you can connect them with someone else who can.
G is for generous – simply acts of generosity can pay significant dividends. This could range from giving people your time, supporting new colleagues, sharing your knowledge and pointing people to resources that could help them. But one of the most effective acts of generosity is by connecting people – to those who could be a solutions provider. In doing so, you add value to your relationship.
E is for engaging (and excitement) – if you say you’re going to do something, then do it. This could be sending a follow up email, sharing a link or passing the details of a contact you may have who can help them.
What was clear after Nicola’s presentation is that there is power in networking. The question is, what will you do differently the next time you’re attending your next networking event?
The next Breakfast Session will take place on 16th May, with Tudor Williams from DTD Training. Bookings are now open.