Now we've got to Day 6 you should be well on your way to having your skills identified, companies that you want to work for nailed, the CV perfected and on-line profile polished. So what's next? It's time to get out there. Now, many people approach networking with a healthy dose of trepidation. Completely understandable. You're putting yourself in a position where you are forcing yourself to meet people you've never met before, with nothing apparently in common, you might not even like them! Preparation is key before embarking on the dreaded 'networking'. Firstly, make sure you are attending the right events. A few hours of research at this time will save you many hours of wasted networking being at events that are wholly inappropriate. You see, it's not just about being out there seeing people, after all, you could do that by going to the pub. It's all about being at the places where your peers, clients, suppliers and future contacts may be. You might think it odd that we put 'suppliers' in that list of people to speak to however there is method in our madness.
Networking is not all about 'What can I get'. If you approach it that way then you will fail, perhaps not over the short term but certainly in the long term. Networking is about giving first and you'll be amazed at what you get back. So, speaking to suppliers and helping them out may lead to them talking about your competitors or market trends that you could find useful. In line with this, don't approach networking conversations with the mentality of 'What can I get'. It just won't work. So, we're back to preparation. Before you attend the event try and get a delegate list. We know these aren't always available but if you don't ask you won't get. If you do get a list, simple searches on-line, LinkedIn etc will help you to spot the people that you should try to talk to at some stage during the event. If you really don't recognise anyone on the list although they are people you want to speak to then contact the organiser. Check that they are going to be there and introduce yourself and explain that you will pop over to chat to them when you get there. Once you arrive and the nerves are jangling a bit, I know it might sound a bit daft, but do a couple of breathing exercises. You don't need to go in to a full Tai Chi workout but breathing deeply often helps to settle the nerves (if that fails then head straight for the bar for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc!). Invariably you'll be surprised that there are some people there that you recognise and so can join in with their conversations initially. However, if all else fails then go and have a chat to the organiser and ask them to help you make your first introduction.
Once you're talking to one person, invariably other people join in the conversation. If you do get 'trapped' then breaking off to get a top up of coffee (or SB...) is a good way and if you're really on the ball, time this with when one of your targets is doing the same. Sometime it works, sometimes it doesn't! One final thing to remember is the importance of taking business cards to these events. Unless you're Johannes Mallow, you're not going to remember all the people you meet. Once you've collected the cards make sure you promptly LinkIn with people after the event, it's a nice way to keep in touch. If you feel you need more support on networking then take a look at Will Kintish, he runs some great open seminars and training courses on building your confidence for attending events - they are well worth investing some time in. Watch this to see if any of the feelings this person has are familiar... http://youtu.be/1fW7bR68_4I Good luck with your networking. Tomorrow we'll be talking about selecting recruitment consultancies and the best ways of working with them. We hope you'll join us.