- The strategic approach to building a network is quality not quantity
- Focus on building two way relationships and take the take to educate people about who you are and what you do
- Join groups and forums that relate to your role and field and be active in sharing information
Julia Palmer is a leading networking strategist who has dedicated her career to educating business people on the importance of creating and sustaining internal and external business relationships. With over 15 years of research and practice, Julia is a passionate presenter on this critical area of business marketing and will show you how to better market yourself and your business.
In this interview Julia share her top tips for networking:
How to make the make the most out of networking?
Many people have a scattered approach to networking, often connecting with too many people. These relationships are one way by nature and have little depth, so although it seems they have a big network, such a network doesn't meet the needs of those in it. If you focus on building two way relationships, you take the time to educate people about who you are and what you do.
This strategic approach to building a network is not on quantity but rather quality and it means your influence reaches those in your network’s network! To achieve this you need to be selective of the events you attend, prepare for meeting the right people and steering conversations accordingly, and follow up to stay top of mind with your network.
What to avoid doing when approaching new people at networking or business events?
- The business card tango! Be selective about when you hand your business card out. Meeting someone and shaking hands, then thrusting your business card into their hand isn’t a way to make a good impression. Chat with them first, find out if there is common ground and a worthwhile connection to make. Your business card can’t replace your personality. People connect with people, not a fancy card that they may not even want.
- Another mistake is being too over-the-top and focused on what YOU want. I have met people who try and sell me something of theirs or make me a new client in the first breath. Humans need to connect first and being railroaded will have the opposite effect.
- People need to understand the impact of non-verbal communication. Have you ever chatted with someone who kept looking over your shoulder looking for someone better to talk to? Keep good eye contact and be mindful of your stance. Are you including or excluding someone from the group? Getting the handshake wrong can also set negative first impressions. Be strong and firm without breaking anyone’s wrist!
How can social media help?
LinkedIn is definitely the most widely used and appropriate platform for professional networking. It is Google search enabled which means if someone types your name into a search, your profile is likely to be on the first page that comes up. Join groups and forums that relate to your role and field and be active with comments and more importantly, the sharing of information.
What are some simple things you can do online to help stay on top of and grow your connections?
- Subscribe to as many news feeds as you can to stay on top of ideas for conversation starters and be in a position to contribute when topics are brought up when networking (personally and professionally).
- Use Google Alerts to track key people and topics.
- Use Hootsuite to follow those in your network and stay on top of social media streams.