Make time to network face-to-face
Published: 30 Jan 2015
Despite the influence of online tools such as email, video communication and social media platforms, when it comes to business there is still no substitute for meeting with people face-to-face.
That’s the view of Karen Gauld, a senior recruitment consultant at Right People. She believes the key to successful networking is to strike a balance between utilising technology and traditional methods of communication.
Karen said: “Networking can form an effective part of your overall business development strategy as well as helping to raise your company’s profile, particularly in a competitive marketplace such as the north-east. As a recruiter, I’m well aware of the benefits social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter can bring in terms of gathering key information and staying in touch with people. In my view, however, one of the most effective way to network and raise your profile is by going out and meeting other like-minded people face-to-face.
“There’s no right or wrong way to network. Everyone has their own unique style but the more often that you network, the more confident you will become. Different organisations, such as Aberdeen Business Network, BNI Scotland North and the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, offer a range of formats which ensure you should be well placed to find something that works for you.”
Here, Karen outlines her five key steps for successful networking:
Go networking – I always hear people say that they would love to network but simply don’t have the time. I believe that’s a fundamental mistake as, unless you attend an event, you’ll never know who you might meet or what contacts those people may have.
Speak to strangers – While it can help ease nerves to go along with a friend or colleague, avoid falling into the trap of only speaking to people you know. Take the time to interact with other people in the room to make the most out of each event.
Don’t talk too much – Remember that you are not going to these events to give the hard sell on your business’ products or services; it’s important to listen to what other people have to offer.
Engage – There’s nothing worse than trying to hold a conversation with someone and they’re busy checking their mobile phone for messages or unable to maintain eye contact. Your e-mails can wait until the event is finished.
Be generous – I find that the most success I have is when it’s less about me and more about how I can help the person I’m speaking to. If I give someone a lead then they are more likely to return the favour in future or give a personal recommendation of you and your business.
Karen added: “Once you’ve met, spoken with and been given someone else’s business card, it’s vital that you connect with them again - you don’t want these new relationships to stall because you never know where that connection could lead or what doors it could open.
“By following these steps you should see benefits in terms of making valuable contacts and building lasting relationships. It’s essential that individuals and companies make the most out of the many networking opportunities available as business continues to be done between people who have that all-important personal connection.”