I hate networking. In fact, I hate talking to people I don’t know; I often don’t like talking to people I do know. By attending the CityUniWomen event Getting the most from your networking on 15th May I hoped to get over this fear in order to make networking events slightly more pleasurable. Thankfully, the session delivered, so here are some top-tips.
1: Have a goal in mind for any event
This will help you focus and reduce the fear and sense of aimlessness you can feel when joining a networking event. Keep this goal in mind. You can have a big picture, ultimate goal, and then sub-goals.
Big goal: I want to build a network outside the library to help me understand how the rest of the university works, and see how we fit in to that.
Sub-goal: by the end of today’s networking event I will have spoken to three new people about their role at City.
2: Remember what you can offer
This one is tough as I often thing ‘ why on earth would anyone want to hear what I have to say’. So, before going on any kind of event have a think about your area or practice and expertise. For example, some of us know a whole load about inter-loans and have worked out lots of issues over the years – those people could share their experience. I know a lot about running injuries, and the university’s interruption of studies policy. Obviously, try and think about something relevant to the event and people you are likely to encounter there.
It also helped to draw out your own network, thinking about who you know, and the networks they link you in to.
Prepare what you will say about where you work, what we offer that is wonderful, useful, the purpose we serve. These things will then be at the forefront of your mind and you can mention them at appropriate times.
Prepare an introduction for yourself, sharing what you do and where you work, and your goals. This should not be rambling, and last no more than 30 seconds.
4: Find common ground
In order to prevent the panic setting in remember to try and find common ground with people you are talking to by asking questions and listening, and showing enthusiasm whilst doing so. One obvious thing is to find out what brought them to the event and what they thought of it. You could also use the FOIL technique, asking people about: Family, Occupation, Interests, Lifestyle. Remember to listen to the answers and show interest though!
I’m going to try and use some of these tips at the next networking event I attend. In July we have the Library Services Away Day, and Develop at City and the City Icons/Founders Day celebrations which are perfect, and safe, opportunities to test these out.