Tips to Successful Networking (Part 1)
By popular request, today I will discuss how to network with others. I have grasped a few basic networking skills which are very effective, and if you incorporate the following into your skill set, your networking skills will greatly improve.
1. Make it a habit to meet new people and not hang out with friends at networking events
I know some people who hang out with the same people wherever they go. It’s fine to have close friends and do activities with them, but at networking events staying close to friends often inhibits one from networking and making new friends. It takes courage and determination to talk to different people, but this is essential to successful networking. It’s fine to network in pairs if you’re uncomfortable networking on your own and there are advantages to network in a pair, but make sure you go talk to other people.
I have close friends, but at networking events I deliberately go meet new people. I often see friends at networking events and may chat with them for a while, but I make it a habit to keep conversations short so I can move on to meet new people. The purpose of networking events is to network with new people and form new connections that could help you in your career.
2. Start with the top – the president, vice-president, executive committee, and organizing team
One super effective way to meeting new people in an unfamiliar setting is to meet the president, VP, the executive team and event organizing team as early as possible. Often the executive team are the most outgoing people in the event, and they are looking forward to meeting people who attend their event (I know this because I was Chair of the Institute of Chartered Accountants’ Young CA Forum). The topic choice for starting conversations is really easy too – just praise them for a job well done organizing the event and you’ve got a conversation started
Another advantage about networking with the executive team is they can introduce you to many other people in the event they already know. The executive team knows a lot of people!
Example: Calvin meets the President and VP Academic of York University!
Don’t be afraid to network with certain top management people when you see them because of their status. I find that top management are often the most friendly people and are very willing to talk with you. For example, yesterday I met the President of York University: Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri and the Vice-President Academic and Provost of York University: Rhonda L. Lenton at the York University President’s Town Hall (see pictures). President Shoukri and Vice-President Lenton are two of the nicest people I’ve met and I chatted with them for a while about their vision for the university!
Stay tuned for Part 2, which I will discuss:
3. Be an expert networker by becoming an executive committee member
4. Network with everyone – regardless of background or culture
5. Finding topics to say
6. Do your friend a favour: introducing a friend to other people at networking events
7. Go ahead! Say “Hello” and initiate handshake!