How to network properly during the Holidays' season?
I am always very grateful for everything I have as well as for everything I do not have, I consider the "Thanksgiving" period not only a time to be thankful for what I have but also a time to give back as much as I can.
There are many of us struggling to find a better position, get a salary increase, or find a better job.
Contrary to common belief that things slow down around the holidays, so they just procrastinate till the holidays are over; the best time to network is around the Holidays.
During the Holidays seasons there are a lot of parties to network at and within, most of the people are in a "jolly" state of mind feeling like giving and be kind to others.
So you, yes "YOU" need to start mingling to promote your business, advance your career, or find that job that you have been dreaming of.
Networking can be offline face to face, or online through emails or social media channels
The one question that keeps coming up is:"How can I network with customers, prospectives, executives or recruiters without coming across as pushy, needy, spammy, or self-serving, or the "I am shy." excuse comes out.
Networking is the art of making yourself memorable so your contacts won’t forget you.
Remember the Golden rule: Networking is the practice of engaging people the way you want to be engaged. I will add the Platinum rule: Networking is the practice of engaging people the way they want to be engaged.
The idea of networking makes many people uncomfortable … or confused.
Networking is based on the premise that we are all humans and need each other. Networking should be beneficial to both parties involved, so think WIIIFT or “What Is In It For Them” highlighting the benefits and values that you can add to others beside what they can do for you.
These are few tips I wanted to share that I gathered throughout my years of experience including some faux-pas and heartaches that I want you to avoid:
Do your research: If you know who will be at the networking event, do your research on who they are and what they do to find a conversation starter and show interest in the other person.
Know yourself, Realize that you have a "VALUE" and have something to offer: No matter who you are, realize that you have a value that you can share with others, even if it is only viewing others' videos, adding likes on posts or sharing tweets for others. Start networking with the main goal of helping others, caring about their needs more than yours. If you feel this is crazy, it is not – it is about actually paying it forward; you will get paid back in time when you least expect it
Be Yourself: Be genuine, people will feel if you are being fake, and it will get in your way. Make sure to watch people’s personal space and touching
Share your passion as this is what will come through, do not minimize or make fun of anyone ideas, work or industry – remember everyone’s dream is close to their hearts
SMILE: You will be surprised how many people forget to smile. Smiling is part of your body language that you need to watch when you network, including having open gestures, confident posture, and eye contact; body language actions speak louder than words.
We live in a very diverse world, so first and last names vary a lot, some are easy to repeat and some not so easy, in this case make sure to ask a person how to say their names properly. Nothing is more irritating to me than feeling that someone doesn't care enough to know how to say my name. Repeat the name few times in the conversation
It is not about YOU, it is about building lasting human relationships and not pushing yourself or your needs on others
Practice Active Listening (more than talking) and that is listening without prejudice meaning that you need to clear a space physically and mentally, do not assume knowing how they will finish their sentence, do not judge or label whoever is speaking, keep eye contact, ask questions, lean very slightly forward to show interest in the conversation
Know your brand: Be prepared to introduce yourself, put your best foot forward in under 60 seconds, otherwise called “Elevator pitch” without being too salezy (My own combination of Sales + Sleazy).
Concentrate on ONLY Three to Four people to get to know when you attend a networking event, that you know can make a difference in your life or can help reach your goals on the long run, and focus your efforts on these people rather than running around the room the whole night, or having a wandering eye looking around the room to find your next prey while you’re still talking to someone.
Know the difference between asking for help, asking for advice or asking for a favor (this is a great tip I got from @Damona Hoffman ) when you ask someone for help without being specific like “help me expand my business” you overwhelm them, they feel anxious and their reaction might be negative to your request. When you ask for advice you have something specific to ask; people being people are eager to land a hand and feel important, ask one or two specific questions and ask for recommendation. To ask for a favor is again asking for something very specific like “You have known me for a while, I think my services could be a good fit for this organization, would you consider recommending me to their procurement manager”?.
Expand your horizons: Network with people outside of your industry you can never know who you will meet. Do not dismiss anyone as irrelevant you can never know when you might need them.
Everyone is strapped for time: Respect your and other people’s time, so always be clear to the point and always always first ask someone if they have a moment either in person or on the phone
Be an connector: Introducing like-minded people is a powerful tool to enhance your network, again pay it forward, ask people if they want to be connected and be the connector
Make networking a habit: Reach out to at least one new person a day, and 3 to 5 people already in your network online or offline (Networking is both about new people as well as people that you had in your network)
"NO" doesn't necessarily means No: Keep at it and you might get a Yes. A No can be temporary due to certain conditions that can change in the future hence following up is extremely important. Do not take NO personally it is not about you. Keep networking with the person that said NO no matter what. Throughout my life, more than 90% of NOs have turned to YESes as I persevered on networking with these people in a very delicate, soft way.
Remember to share your business card and ask for others’ business cards, a great way for me to remember every person I get a card from, be careful if you write on the back of a business card as it might be rude in some cultures. Follow up reminding others of the conversation. When you receive a business card make sure to scan it first before you put it back in your pocket, as shaving it in your poclet wthout reading it is disrespectful in some cultures
You have 48 hours to follow up as people in general have a short memory span so they can remember you
If you are networking online, most of these tips apply. Make sure your emails are concise and to the point. Use the proper subject line and ask for what you need at the beginning of the email. Do not use ALL caps, and do not send mass emails; nothing is worst that a generic email when you need to build personal relationship. Take the time, it is a commitment if you really care about results like having long sustainable relationships
Do not spam people, or clutter their in-mail box the minute you meet them either face to face or online.
Do not ask for favors right after you connect: For example do not ask a contact on LinkedIn to recommend right after connecting when they do not even know what you do.
Share interesting content, articles or blogs with your online connections through status updates or offline contacts by emails without inundating their mail box, not only you are helping your contacts but you are also establishing yourself as a credible authority resource in your field
I always say: "You so not Ask; you do not get", so if you need to meet someone ask to be introduced or approach them and show interest in connecting with them, use something in common or discuss something you know about them (Always do your research) especially if you feel that this person can help you in the future
Be positive & patient: Nothing is worst that a droopy, negative person reciting everything wrong in their life in a networking event, do not bad mouth your old client, employer or manager. Things will turn around when you least expect it
My last word of wisdom is: You can never know till you know, so go ahead and network you can never know who you will meetYour next biggest account, interview may be happening this minute, your biggest client can be watching you now, you can never know who is in a room so always be YOUR best ever.
Holidays are the best time to network. Hope this helps, if you have any comments, or you have more tips, please add them in the comments so others can profit.
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Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant-
Transformation Coach - The Fear Whisperer
Sahar Consulting, LLC
I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.
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