The Art of Networking
Being in the hospitality and events business, (or any other business for that matter), networking is a fundamental key for growing business and contacts be it for work or social! At the end of the day we’ve all heard of the term ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!’
I’m a natural extrovert. (Don’t get me wrong, I do love my own company too and have been known to be a total bookworm at times). I thrive on meeting new people especially in a fun setting and became more extrovert purely by accident. Being in the hospitality industry for more than twenty-nine years, I learned a lot about people and my personality simply evolved and I have certainly found it much easier to engage with new people and complete strangers. In fact, the word social is often misused. Social media has ironically, made us more antisocial in some ways, and the importance of being socially confident is a skill that is becoming more of a must for all business endeavours.
Networking to some stirs up thoughts of utter dread whereas others thrive in that kind of setting. Whether one is introvert or extrovert, walking into a room full of strangers is not every one’s cup of tea and successful networking is something that everyone can get better with practice.
I thought I would share some tips for those who find networking awkward and how to make this more enjoyable, fun and ultimately work towards a better engagement experience.
- Smile, (often we forget and it usually shows, if you feel nervous then you’ll look nervous.) Be yourself, and have some questions ready such as ‘What brought you here today?’ or ‘How did you hear about this event?’ Introducing your name and reaching out to people will make it easier for dialogue to flow.
- Practice storytelling by sharing what you’re passionate about. I love this aspect, as people always love a story and when it is personal to you, then you are simply the best person to tell it. It gives people a sense of what you are about and can be a good connecting point.
- Be relational and avoid the hard sell, it’s easy to forget when we are networking away that although we are there for business, jobs or whatever the occasion, we forget to have fun and relate to people as people. People will have interests outside of their jobs, sometimes children, animal lovers, avid cyclists, interest in health and fitness, the list goes on… Before you know it, you may meet a new friend who has a mutual friend in common and you realise that your network is much closer than you think! It’s often happened to me.
- Follow up with a message or email after the event and with social media these days it is relatively quick to send a message on LinkedIn or other channels. Having business cards handy is another way to be prepared for any networking event.
Happy networking and most importantly have fun whilst growing your networks!
Until next time…