Nurturing your Network: Top Tips

Nurturing your Network: Top Tips
Promoted by Nurturing your Network: Top Tips

These days we tend to consider ourselves pretty well connected. Thanks to social media, ‘followers’, ‘friends’ and ‘connections’ are being forged on a daily basis. Has the internet revolution made networking easier? Do we all know one another better? Probably not. 

The business case for networking

 1.  Unearth new business opportunities

Effective questioning, listening and observing body language enables you to read between the lines of what your client needs, and gives you the chance to offer your services at the optimum time.

2.  Raise your profile

If you are ‘front of mind’ for key prospects, clients and organisations – it is more likely that your competitors are not. Take into account the cost of not networking efficiently.

3.  Broaden and deepen existing relationships

Truly knowing your client as a person, and perhaps as a friend, enables you to build valuable rapport. It means they are more likely to disclose their needs, objectives and challenges.

4.  Widen your circle of influence

Know and connect with the key decision makers, influencers, gate keepers and opinion leaders.

5.  Create an inward flow of information

Raise your awareness of issues, themes and pressures in the wider world.

“People who have initially connected in the digital space are now valuing finding the time to get together – face-to-face still plays an important part.”

Andy Lancaster, CIPD

What are the challenges in networking successfully?

Here is our five-step approach to fruitful networking:

Step 1: Choose a networking style

  • The cultural dimension – choose a style that feels comfortable and appropriate for the culture of the people you are meeting
  • Avoid the pushy, aggressive, sales-pitch ‘grab-the-punter’ style
  • The consultative style – particularly appropriate to professional services environments
  • Retain humanity and make real connections with people
  • Respect and mutual value
  • Authenticity – be true to who and what you are
  • Normalise the process – this is a natural part of your professional responsibilities
  • The idea of ‘The Complete Professional’ – core skills combined with a broader skill which includes interpersonal and networking skills

Step 2: Plan to network

  • Planning if you are the host – preparing guest lists, mixing existing and potential clients, creating opportunities for third party networking, getting people to attend
  • Planning if you are the host – preparing guest lists, mixing existing and potential clients, creating opportunities for third party networking, getting people to attend
  • Research and familiarisation. Reminding yourself of what has gone on before in the relationship with each of your guests
  • Briefing the team. Making sure your people are informed and prepared
  • Targeting – to whom must you talk? To whom would you like to talk?
  • Practicalities and administration
  • Researching your host, getting access to the guest list, targeting key people

Step 3: Those first few moments…

  • Create a positive first impression. Be upbeat and positive, showing mental, physical and vocal energy
  • Make sure your introduction is successful – greeting, handshake, level of formality
  • Be aware of personal space – consider how you use eye-contact, tactility and proximity

Step 4: Create rapport

  • Use open questions – get them talking. Tip: Explore but don’t cross examine or interrogate!
  • Identify low risk, but not boring, subjects to get the ball in play
  • Go for 80:20 to begin with – 80% of the air time for them and 20% for you
  • Listen with full attention – respond to what you hear
  • Demonstrate courtesy and good manners. Make them aware that you are choosing to be there!

Step 5: Close gracefully – and move on

  • Avoiding lame excuses, ‘I must go to the bathroom …’ or ‘must be off …’
  • If you are the host, fulfil your obligations
  • Perhaps offer to introduce them to someone else – ‘Here is someone I know you would enjoy meeting’
  • The ‘social grab’ – get someone else involved in the conversation and then move on yourself
  • Exchange business cards and agree a next action. Make sure you follow up and follow through

Interested to find out more?

We design and deliver intensive workshops that include a mix of brainstorms, technical instruction, group discussion, self-assessment, planning, practical skills development and role-plays of real networking situations.

Groups will learn how to:

  • Work the room, including how to join a group already in conversation
  • Deal with tricky issues such as difficult behaviour; being asked for professional advice; seniority, status and gender
  • Create, sustain and develop a broad network of relationships, contacts and connections
  • Work within that network to create value, beneficial outcomes and new opportunities
  • Maximise the return they achieve from the time invested in networking

Email us at [email protected] for more information.


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