New to Networking?
Networking to many people often feels like a daunting challenge. So to make your first visit easier we can offer new members a unique service. At your first meeting you will be greeted by one of the board members who will then spend time with you to introduce you to other members so you can quickly start making new contacts and building your network.
If you would like to take advantage of this please contact Denise Jones to make the necessary arrangements.
Benefits of Networking
Networking is about developing long-term relationships for mutual gain and creating a lasting impression with people so that they think of you positively when an opportunity arises.
Once learned, networking is a life skill which has many applications. Most commonly, people use networking to develop new business or find a new job. In the context of HR, networking has the following benefits:
- Networking internally – raise your profile, source new project opportunities, strengthen relationships with stakeholders and gather information on their HR requirements
- Networking externally with HR peers – exchange best practice knowledge, learn new HR methods, source inspiration for an HR issue, benchmark performance or even find a new job
- Networking externally with business executives or suppliers – stay abreast of latest business news, do your own head-hunting/talent spotting, find knowledge or contacts to help a colleague
Networking is synonymous with the term ‘working a room’ – however it is NOT about rapidly working your way through huge quantities of people, dishing out business cards in a desperate bid to make a ‘sale’. If you go back to our definition – networking is about mutual gain and it is long term. It takes time to develop a two-way dialogue and truly understand the needs of others and so results do not happen overnight.
Tips on Networking
Research – depending upon your overall objectives, you should do your homework to ensure that you’re in the right room with the right people. Ask for the guest list beforehand and do some internet research to familiarise yourself with the people and companies they represent. If the content and guest list looks interesting, why not invite a colleague or client along too?
Rehearse – prepare some conversation lines if you’re worried about ‘sticky silences’. Try offering two topic choices, e.g. ‘do you know many people here or are you a newcomer like me?’ If they know lots of people, they can introduce you or if they’re new too, you could offer another open question or information about yourself, e.g. ‘I came here because I live around the corner and thought I might meet some fellow HR managers’.
On arrival – take a quiet moment to review the attendee list, observe the room and notice the different groupings of people. If there’s someone in particular that you’d like to meet (but don’t know), ask the host if they are able to introduce you. If you feel uncomfortable, break yourself in gently by chatting to a few people around the refreshment table.
Body language – think about your posture, levels of eye contact, facial expressions and your handshake. These all influence peoples’ perception of you and give off signals as to how confident and engaged you are. The key to good networking is establishing rapport, do that by listening and showing the other person that you’re listening.
Follow-up – as soon as you leave, begin thinking about how you’ll follow-up new contacts. Take a few notes on who you met, their interests and how you might add value to them – did you promise to send them an article or introduce them to one of your contacts? Ensure you follow up within three days of the event.
Networking is becoming increasingly more strategic and sophisticated. A skilled networker is recognised as a more ‘rounded’ employee – someone who can tap into their network for specialist knowledge, pursue new business leads, gather market intelligence, source new strategic alliances and raise the profile of their organisation.
This section has been provided by Heather White, Smarter Networking Ltd.