Whether you have an extroverted or introverted personality, if you are in marketing, the art of networking is something that you need to master. I have seen many marketing professionals who don’t like networking just because they are afraid or shy to talk to people they don’t know. Most of them say that networking is a “sales skill” and sales is not what they signed up for. Ironically, once you think that something is not for you, you immediately condition your mind not to do it. Hence, you can’t expect developing it as a skill.
They will help you establish meaningful connections with others and build a relationship that has a real value. Where should you start?
Some of us might hate it or be annoyed with it but talks such as “what is the weather today“ or discussions about your hobbies can play a really important role in the future relationship. This is the starting point from which you get to know the other person. And you should be genuinely interested and listening carefully in order to keep the magic alive. Some questions you can start with:
It might surprise you but the art of networking is fairly easy. All you need to do is overcome this internal fear when you plan to make the first step. But remember – if you are smiling genuinely when approaching your networking buddy and have some opening lines in mind, you don’t really have anything to worry about. The conversation will start flowing naturally and before you realize, the person you are networking with might become your next best buddy.
There is a great article by the author Jen Doll published in the New York Times about How to be better at parties. Doll states that conversation is part of what you bring to any social event. There are also tips to be a true conversation superstar. And it is easier than it looks. Some of them include:
According to Janine Garner, entrepreneur, and Fortune 500 mentor and author, building a network that works is both an art and a science.
“It is an art that requires basic human skills in communication, connection, authenticity and the ability to be ‘in the present’ and engaged with people and conversation,” Garner said to HuffPost Australia.
What is the group of the “critical few” you can network with? This is the number of people we could maintain stable relationships with, keep in contact and do each other favors. Anything larger than that leads to the creation of sub-groups. This is why Garner’s advice is to keep their circle only to the “critical few”.
This concept is based on the theory by the British evolutionary anthropologist Robin Dunbar who explains why even Facebook cannot expand our true social circle. The reason is that our brains are not large enough to cope with more than 150 friends at most. This is the number from Dunbar’s studies that represent our capacity to network whether on Facebook or in our society. Read more about the study in the article by Guardian about the theory of Dunbar.
I already mentioned the importance of listening to the art of networking. I would like to stress it once again here. The award-winning journalist, author, and speaker Celeste Headlee is providing very useful tips in her TED talk How to have a good conversation.
A great conversation requires a balance between listening and talking. And this balance can solve many issues, including bad communication in the relationships, work and everywhere else.
Approach each conversation assuming that you have something to learn. This would help you stay present and achieve the maximum value from each situation. As a result, you will enhance your ability to master the art of networking. Remember that all experiences are individual, so make sure you actively listen and don’t occupy the conversation with yourself. Most importantly – be brief. This strategy would help others understand you better and keep them in the conversation.
“А good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain an interest, but long enough to cover the subject,” said Heedlee.
So, do you believe now that you are able to lead a meaningful conversation with the next person you meet? Only by unlocking your boundaries you would become a true conversational master.