Enhancing your networking skills

Author: 
Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Like it or not networking is something we all do on a daily basis, especially within the business environment. Love it or loath it, we never stop engaging with people. So, within our blog we hope to give you some tips on how to develop and enhance your networking skills.

Let’s take a moment to look at networking in a different light, let’s break down it’s ‘scary image.’ If you cast, you mind back to your school days, yes school! Reflect for moment on how you built your friendships, big or small, and social groups. These experiences were your first form of networking, and no doubt it took time to build these networks. And consider all the things you learnt back then- yes, the good and the bad, these experiences have helped to shape an understanding of how we ‘human beings,’ interact and communicate. You and your friends started with a common ground or interest, and from this point onwards you were then building connections. 

In many ways the school network, would have been a lot more challenging than the business world of today, as you were finding your way and place in the world- that was a lot of pressure!

Your Networking
Back to the current day. Now, you are empowered with so many different skills, unlike school you have perfected your subject knowledge - your business, and career, thus giving you an ideal platform to talk about.  With all this in mind, here are some very useful tips to develop, support and enhance your networking skills. Our member and networking guru kicks us off first: 

Ian Hacon, Founder & Chief Energy Officer, Energise Me:
Tip 1. Get energise
“No one wants to do business with someone who looks like they don’t want to be there. So put your phone away and put thoughts of your day so far and what’s to come in the back of your mind. Use an affirmation to do this. I say to myself “Light up the room” many times on my way to the event, especially as I am entering the room. So, I arrive with a smile on my face, ready to talk.”

Tip 2. Don't be too pushy
“No one likes being “sold to” in the first few minutes of meeting you. Take time to start to build a relationship with the other person. Be interested in them as a person. You might just find out something really interesting or useful.”

Tip 3. do your prep
“Make sure before you attend the meeting if you know who’s going to be there that you have done some research on them. Don’t be too creepy though, stalking them on Facebook and starting off with “How was your holiday in Palma?” maybe a little too far, but “I see your company just won a big order” shows you are interested in them.”

Ian runs several courses on the Art of Networking, if you or your staff would like to develop these skills, click here for more information.

Lorna Burroughes, from Thrive
"My top tip is to grow and nuture your trusted community of connectors, conselors and collaborators, to gain the greatest return on investment.

The Norfolk Chambers of Commerce Networking tips

Our Chambers staff regularly attend and host events where they network with the business community. This often requires a range of different skills and can be in a diverse range of environments too. We have all brought together some of our tips to support you. If you see our Customer Experience Team at a Chambers event and would like us to support you with making connections, just say and we are always happy to pair-up to guide you round the room and help to build connections.

Philippa Bindley, Head of Customer Experience 
"The best networking always happens at the start of the event. Always arrive on time. This allows you to talk to the host and also ask to be introduced to people. When the event ends people normally rush off to work, their next meeting or home."

Nova Fairbank, Public Affairs Manager
"Don't be afraid to smile and introduce yourself to total strangers at networking event. Remember everyone at networking events is as nervous as you. Always ask them about themselves and their business - everyone is keen to talk about what they are doing. Always check the delegate list who are the people who would be most beneficial to talk too?"

Haze Carver, Customer Experience Team Member
“A huge smile works wonders, it relaxes other people and you too.”

Dominique Bivar Segurado, Marketing Coordinator 
“Always carry your business cards and be prepared to hand them out, sometimes this might be in place you least expect. One of my favourites was a children’s party. 

Remember at each networking event you are there to represent you and your business. So always try to be professional, friendly, and most of all enjoy meeting old and new faces. I love finding out about all different businesses in region, and it never ceases to amaze me the diversity there is! It’s also a chance to be out of the office, talk about what you do, and most of all find out about what’s going on in the business community and meet a variety of people. Over the years I have found this great to draw back on the network of people I have met."

Jack Edwards, IT & Data Manager 
“Have some questions lined up ready to ask if the conversation begins to go stale.”

Charlotte Upcraft, PA to Senior Management Team
"Be prepared where possible. If there is a delegate list, look to see who you would like to meet e.g. non-members or find out a piece of news on a member or non-member so it’s easier to start a conversation! Don’t forget to follow up any promises or leads too!! If someone is standing alone – go over to them and ask if you may join them. They may be feeling lost and uncomfortable. It doesn’t always have to start with business chat either!"

 

Over time your networking will happen in many forms, from big to small events and one to one meetings, there is always a chance to enhance and develop you and your business. So, most of all enjoy it, be genuine and stay in touch with your network too. 

 

Share this

Gold Patrons