Opinion Piece: It’s time to step up and nail your networking style.

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Have you ever considered what sort of style you adopt when networking?  

No? Well, it’s time to step up - identify your style - and nail it, to get the most out of your networking.

The key to receiving referrals from any type of networking you engage in, is to have others like, know and trust you. Once you establish true, genuine connections - your contacts are often more than happy to refer their clients on to you.

My number one tip after working for decades in the business and community networking arenas? Simple: be yourself.

You will come across a range of different networking styles in various meetings and business arenas - and if you feel out of place, it’s crucial not to get confused. You are not necessarily in the wrong network - it may simply be that your networking style is different - and that’s ok.

My advice is to try various groups and find ones that you feel the most comfortable in, with like-minded people, so you can build your networking skills confidently. You may need to attend more than once - in fact, I recommend attendance two or three times to the same types of meetings, as you will feel and respond differently every time.

It’s helpful to know that we all network differently - and that’s ok - different approaches are neither right or wrong.

Some of us traditionally shake hands, swap cards and talk business - straight off the bat. Others prefer to trust their instinct and chat a little, getting to know someone before engaging in business discussions.

When it comes to networking - you must be prepared to contribute. Giving to receive is very relevant in networking. Sometimes your attendance may be the ‘giving’ aspect - as you're getting to know the other members of the group.

Asking others what has worked for them when networking helps you understand how you may be able to contribute to their needs - and the needs of the group overall. 

You should also approach every networking event with an understanding of what return on investment you're seeking. The return may be meeting new people, an investment in personal development from the relevant speakers, boosting your confidence, or new business opportunities.

Remember to consider the investment of networking in both tangible and intangible ways - as an investment of money, but also time, resources, future connections and new opportunities.

Taking the time to identify and develop the way you like to network goes a long way in establishing short and long-term connections in both business and our overall communities. 

Networking shouldn’t be seen as simply event attendance - it’s not spontaneous - it takes time, investment and resources to nail your networking style and see outstanding results.

Janet Culpitt

Business Master Coach (SMJ Coaching Institute)

janetculpitt.com.au

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