by KARIN PETERSEN Blue Moon Executive Strategist
That’s just bad networking.
Nobody is going to take you seriously when you have flaky pastry bits on your jacket, anyway.
Networking guru, Helen Nicholson says that networking is ‘about wise farming, not hunting’. It’s a communication science and something that needs to be structured, strategised and executed with dexterity – like any good communication tool. And with all the incredible communication tools at our disposal, there is very little excuse for not building up your personal network in a way that will build your personal brand, benefit your career and your business.
For women, it’s a little more challenging. Research done by Italia Bonninelli at Standard Bank in 2007 showed that men had 0-1 people in their intimate network of close friends whereas the average woman had 4-8. On the other hand, women had 11-15 acquaintances in their network and men had 60-80. Men are naturally more inclined to connect with people they have met and use them as a resource, than women are. Women tend to run the thought gamut of ‘She didn’t really like me at ‘varsity, so I doubt she’ll help’ to ‘he’s so busy he probably won’t take my call’.
So. Networking 101. My way. (And it’s working so far)
- Assume that every person you meet is potentially useful.
- Create a point of common interest in your conversation. This doesn’t have to be real life conversation – it could also refer to an online interaction.
- Make sure you highlight anything of value that you could offer the other person.
- Send a note soon afterwards, referring to the discussion. ‘I loved your insights into…’, ‘I discovered those green things were actually overdosed falafels’ – whatever sparks a memory for them.
- Send a LinkedIn request. Skip Facebook for now. That’s stalker-ish.
- Send them useful introductions or information – don’t overload, but make sure they keep in your radar. Do it out of good will. Karma is beautiful and it’ll pay off when you least expect it.
- If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Ask them to introduce you to people in their network if you need it.
- Don’t name drop unless you are a seasoned hand, Wendy Luhabe really is your cousin or you are that linked that you can facilitate an introduction tomorrow, if asked.
- See it as a game. Set a personal challenge to add 2 new people to your network each week. Distance yourself from what you are doing so that it feels like chess, rather than something personal. That way, rejection is a breeze. But it won’t happen often.
Go forth and conquer.