If the Cape Fits
Networking can be both a pleasure and a curse. We have all been to networking meetings thinking it may help with career prospects or improve business. Though more often than not we come away thinking “what was all that about!” We haven’t achieved anything apart from having a nice time, the chance to meet a few interesting people and perhaps if you are lucky a tasty lunch.
Needless to say, your time is precious. Networking needs to be focused and strategic to help you make the most of the face time you get with the people that help you move forward. So let’s go up, up and away for some Superhero Networking
Superhero Networking – Managing Self
Let’s deal with interpersonal skills first, as not all superheroes will be comfortable with face-to-face networking opportunities. We may feel a little self-conscious or just shy to ask those questions we need answers for. However, reserved you may be there is always a way to be that superhero networker. Clearly, shameless self-promotion is just plain bad form, and indiscriminately repeating first names is a little obvious and transparent. Authenticity counts more than “trophy hunting” contacts. Striking that personal note will help to create the best first impression & create a bond.
Ultimately your best contacts will be those you actually like (and can help you with your networking goals). It goes without saying that listening skills combined with open questions to start those curious conversations are essential to building rapport. Moreover having something to say beyond your own pitch will help enormously. Having things to discuss, perhaps news or business-specific items is important. Most of all though try to be authentic and be yourself as most people will see right through you if you try too hard to be something you are not. Identify that hidden superhero networker, though please remember not to wear your underwear on the outside of your trousers, for the first meeting at least!
Creating the Super Network Plan
Now that the interpersonal skills are being worked on, let’s make a superhero networker plan. Here are a few steps to think about to be sure you are attending the right networking meetings. Whilst connecting to the right people to reach your goals and objectives.
- Create networking goals & objectives –
- Make sure you pick and choose the meetings you attend, to help reach the goals you have set for yourself. It may be for your career, or business, for improved sales or promotion. So here is a simple exercise to get started – write down three specific business, personal or career results you hope to achieve over the next year. The next part of the plan will help you.
- Start mapping your contacts –
- Analyse who you know to create a varied network and who to talk to at the meetings you attend. Identify influencers and those formally powerful people. Those people who can give you new information or the expertise you need. They may improve your marketing, career, and career brand or help your business awareness. Include peers in other companies or divisions of your company who will share best practices with you. Most of all these people will inspire and motivate you to achieve your networking goals. By now you will have the list of the people (by name or role) who could help you with the exercise above. These contacts may be able to help with their expertise, control over resources & further contacts, or ability to provide you with other more specific support & guidance.
- Streamline your network –
- Now you have created a varied network from different sources to help you in your networking quest. Superheroes will streamline and identify the contacts that support and energise networking and goals.
- Branch out –
- You should also think about how you could connect your network to your professional and personal goals. Perhaps through social media such as LinkedIn or other face-to-face methods. Most of all are to connect and create a conversation to identify how your contact will help you and perhaps you help them.
- Capitalise on your Superhero Network –
- Lastly, make sure you are using your contacts as effectively as you can. Are there people you rely on in just one area, such as business or for career support? Could you also use the contact to fill a need in another area, such as your personal development? Could you get more from the relationships by putting more energy into them? Most of all reciprocal relationships tend to bear more fruit, therefore, the most successful networkers and people always look for ways to give more back to their contacts.
Needless to say this plan for being a networking superhero needs you to be resourceful and clear on what you want to achieve. Start by identifying your network and connect with the people who can help you with your quest. All superheroes are brave and we need you to summon up your inner networker to create the purpose and a mission for your future networking objectives. So get to it superheroes go forth and network with purpose and clarity, your future success depends on it!
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