I recently announced this new “Ask Sassy” blog series where I’ll be answering some of the questions I get sent on a daily basis. My inbox is full of queries on a range of topics from Health & Fitness, setting up a business, moving, travel, relationships, advice on your specific venture (marketing, launch, concept) the lot. It’s so varied and I love spending the time to think about each one. But it does take time, and they often overlap, so I thought why not share the answers to these questions in blog posts as I’m sure the problems and queries aren’t individual and will help a lot of us!
This first question was made up of a few layers, all to do with the art of networking. I’m talking through my top tips below.
How do you manage networking with all types of people?
Networking is one of the best ways to drive your business and career forward, but I think we all find being in a room full of strangers a little intimidating on occasions. The way I manage networking is often by first finding the person that invited me to the event, whether it’s a company or an individual connecting with them first is a great way to make yourself feel comfortable in the setting. I’ll dive into a conversation with the host if possible and often slip in that I’d love an introduction to another person I know is in attendance. Otherwise I’ll hope from that conversation I’ll be introduced to the people around the host, as you know a host is never standing alone!
If you can’t find the person that invited you, ask around, ask anyone and while you’re talking to them introduce yourself!
Do you ever feel anxious and unsure about how to manage those kinds of situations?
Absolutely, it’s a classic fake it till you make it situation. I sometimes go into events with a goal of introducing myself to 5 new faces in 30 minutes. It’s a little challenge for myself, and I find it helpful to set a goal if you’re not naturally confident in new social circles. If you meet someone that seems to know their way around the room, you can be honest and say you’re totally out of your depth and is their anyone they know who you should chat to, there’s bound to be someone. Otherwise your first port of call is trying to find someone who looks like they too are on the prowl for a conversation, you’re not the only one standing alone.
Do you have any tips about how to keep business conversations going?
My strategy is to be the one asking the questions, keep on asking about them until you find some common ground. Be enthusiastic, listen, and find things you have in common. I often ask people how they got into doing what they do, there’s always a story there. They may keep their answer fairly swift, and throw the question back to you, make yours interesting tell them about the very start, steps along the way and what you’re planning to do next. Opening up to someone allows them to feel like it’s no longer networking, and often the other person opens up to.
How do I find the right people to network with?
With social media I find the best way is to connect first online, be active with liking, commenting and direct messaging the person when they post something you genuinely find interesting. The best kind of message isn’t an emoji or one worded compliment but a question or sentence on the reason you like what they’re up to. Once an online relationship is somewhat established drop them a line to say you’d love to get a coffee. If you know you’ll meet them at a work event soon, following what they’re up to is a great way to naturally introduce yourself. Whilst the “I follow you on Instagram” line may make you cringe, if you follow it by congratulating them on their latest promotion, or telling them about something they do that you enjoy there’s a chance they won’t just thank you, but they’ll also want to know you!
My greatest tip with networking is to keep on telling yourself by putting yourself out there, pushing to meet someone or interrupting a conversation to introduce yourself you have nothing to lose only to gain. Get rid of the fear, it’s all in your head!
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