Networking and relationship building
A common English proverb is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but in business, first impressions really do count. In an increasingly competitive job market, you want to give the right impression to a potential client or employer from the very first encounter. In this blog post focussed on corporate soft skills, we’ll be looking at different networking contexts and some suggestions on how to create a positive first impression.
6 Top Tips for Networking and Building Relationships
Tip 1 – Socialising with colleagues
When meeting colleagues outside of work avoid talking shop for too long. Talking about work can be a good starting point for your evening. It’s certainly therapeutic to moan about the boss but it’s a good idea to move on to other non-work related topics. This will help you relax and get to know your colleagues better.
Tip 2 – First Encounters
When meeting a group of business people visiting your office for the first time smile and say hello in a natural way. Cracking a joke may work for some people but you may come across as a person not to be taken seriously. A friendly hello and perhaps a question about their journey is a more authentic way of introducing yourself.
Tip 3 – Manage the Yawn Creator
If you get stuck with a boring person at a conference, try to find something in common before you make your excuses and slip away. It’s a good idea to make an effort when networking. You never know if the contact might develop into something more useful in the future. However, make sure this doesn’t eat into your valuable networking time!
Tip 4 – Question your Interest in Interesting
If you meet a really interesting person at a business event, try to make sure you still continue to mingle and meet other potential contacts. Even the most interesting of people could distract from your goal of making contacts. If possible, try to bring other people into the conversation and cast a wider net.
Tip 5 – Keeping it Professional
If you see a person you don’t get on with at a non-work function, give them a polite nod and perhaps exchange a few words. You don’t need to introduce them to your family and friends but maintaining a professional, amicable relationship could work in your favour in the future.
Tip 6 – Potential New Business
When you are introduced to a potential new client try to get to know a bit about them first. It is tempting to get straight down to business but it is important to remember that people have rich lives outside of work. Asking about something not directly related to the work you are involved in will help show you in a positive light and seem a more rounded personality.
Above all the key to networking and business relationship building success is to come across as a genuine person who has something interesting to say. Think about what you would like to get out of a networking event and perhaps plan a few things you would like to say. Remember, that you need to listen as well as talk at these type of events. Ask your interlocutor some open-ended questions starting with what, who, where, when etc. All of these things should set you on the path to becoming a successful networker.
Don’t judge a book by its cover: Don’t come to a conclusion about a person or object’s appearance
To talk shop: to talk about work
To crack a joke: to tell a joke
To slip away: to escape unnoticed
To eat into your time: to take a lot of time (negative)
To cast a wider net: to involve more things or people, usually to your advantage
To give someone a nod: to move your head up and down, usually to signal ‘yes’ or ‘hello’
#Shakespeare Lives As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII, ‘All the world ‚s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.’