Recipes for Networking by Cathy Sorbara
80% of today’s jobs are found through networking.
Networking is about making connections and building mutually beneficial relationships. It is an amazing tool for helping you progress in your career and for learning about new opportunities.
That being said, networking also brings a lot of discomfort, awkwardness, and frustration. At the latest CamAWiSE event, we hoped to share recipes for networking success.
To get our minds focused on networking – the good, the bad and the ugly – the evening started with a BINGO ice breaker based on common networking personas. As we mingled, we found out who was privy to certain types of networkers or who could admit they fit the description themselves! Do any of these personas sound familiar to you?
- The Parasite – someone who always asks for favours but never gives value
- The ‘Is There Somebody Better Out There’ – they are scanning the room for alternative conversations before you have even started your own
- The Person That Tells You Their Life Story When You Have Only Just Met
- The Only Women In The Room
- The Argumentative One
We brought the icebreaker to a close by discussing strategies to deal with these types of personas. For starters, it is important to have an exit strategy. If the conversation has run dry or if there is an argument ready to boil over, try to steer the conversation to your favour. Excuse yourself to go to the loo, get another drink or delay a potentially heated conversation for another, more appropriate, time and location. In addition, every good networker has the ability to read non-verbal cues. If you see the person is disengaged, their eyes looking longingly at the ‘exit sign’, it is time to set them free.
The evening progressed with networking role-playing. We were each given a role as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ networker, with hints for how to behave like the character. We then were given 15 minutes to network and practise dealing with different types of networking situations.
We concluded by gathering together the most useful hints from around the room for excelling in networking situations
- Add value and be an active listener – let the other person speak more than you and boost their ego.
- Prepare questions beforehand – if you are attending an event where you know who will be in attendance, do your research so you know which questions to ask and how to keep them engaged
- Think beyond the event – hand out business cards and then follow-up with personalised emails
A big thank you to steering committee member Aldara Dios who spearheaded the event with help from Raheela Rehman and myself. The evening was a confidence boost for us all.