How to Better Manage Your Networking Experience
There is so much to be gained from mixing in diverse groups . By sharing knowledge, experience and listening to different perspectives your thinking and opportunities are expanded. It is also important to remember that our networks create more than 80% of jobs and if are networks are too narrow, we can very well be missing out on opportunities.
ATTEND MIXED GROUPS
Leigh Powell, Business Strategist and Mentor has attended more networking events over the last 5 years than he can count. They have always been mixed events and you can usually find him on the door with name tags welcoming attendees.
It provides a perfect opportunity to notice how people manage the networking experience and begin to immerse themselves into the space and the gathering. There are always introverts, extroverts, ambiverts and your bathroom goers, your phone lookers, your jump right ins, your corner goers and your turn up laters. You quickly notice that everyone deals with an unfamiliar situation in completely differently ways, which is only natural and quite acceptable.
GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Leigh has also observed that there is often a difference in the way men and women and women and women and men and men engage. To start with there are certainly differences in how a conversation begin between women where usually the initial engagement is generally based on getting to know the person before the business conversation begins. Men generally are more comfortable heading straight into the business subjects first. Often the initial engagement between a man and a women is less certain with common ground or a start point harder to find.
Does it really matter whatever the approach?
Leigh says “think it does matter because if it is a truth that building a relationship first will more likely lead to finding a client, referrer, supplier or like-minded collaborator or friend then I think Men should think about how they first engage with a woman or man at a networking event. I think that women should also consider going to more mixed events to amplify their reach”.
ASK OPEN QUESTIONS
A good place to start is to use open and "be interested"questions about who you are talking to , not what they do. Women are genuinely interested in Who is in front of them and then Why they do what they do. Building the foundation of a potential relationship is respectful and considered and most likely a more interesting and rewarding spend of your networking time.
Men (not all) often go straight to questions that are really a quick assessment of the persons potential to them. This runs the risk of missing out on 80% of the story and the wider network that surrounds the person in front of them and will likely lead to a missed opportunity to find a client, referrer, supplier or like-minded collaborator or friend.
So, we should all consider a change of approach when first striking up a conversation so the focus in on Who is in front of us, Why they do what they do and then perhaps the business they do. Give it a try and reap the benefits.
Leigh Powell is a business strategist and mentor atyourtimematters.com.au. Your Time Matters has been running mixed professional development and networking events for over 5 years. He also provides business mentoing, knowing his clients have vision, expertise and ambitious goals, even if they are just starting out. They don’t need to be told what to do, they need someone who will listen to them respectfully, ask pertinent questions that help to explore the details and implications of their strategy and challenge so that they can identify & strengthen potential weaknesses in their business. Contact him to discuss your needs HERE