This week's Guest Writer on Startacus is Startacus member Ghilaine Chan.
In the simplest terms, Ghilaine helps people to run their business, making them more productive, efficient and customer focused, by looking at what isn't working and getting it to run more smoothly.
Here she writes for Startacus from her experience on the ABC (and D,E and F) of Business Networking.
“Networking can seem like a chore. You have your family and friends, why would you want to go out there and spend time with people you don't know?
How do you know that these people will not become new friends or colleagues? They may be the link you need to your next role; the solution to that niggling problem.
It is not easy to walk into a room full of people and put yourself out there. But remember, you don't need to do anything you haven't done before. If you can remember that far back, when you were a child in a park and you ended up as part of a gang that was created in that moment. How did you do that?
You said Hello! You may have even said, my name is ……..
Now next time you walk into a room full of people. How about you try that?
The best way to start a conversation is to ask questions. If nothing else, you will learn something. When was the last time you felt good about someone, you had just met, was it the person who was interested in what you had to say, asking you questions about you and what you were saying?
Ta Da! It was the questions that showed you they were interested in you, everyone’s favourite subject is themselves. So it is a great subject to ask about. You don’t need to be the world expert on anything or anyone.
Have you ever been stuck with someone who talks about a subject that you are not interested in? Asking questions allows you to direct the conversation to a potentially more interesting topic, without it being too obvious. Do you find you are stuck around groups of people who are deep in conversation with someone already? Just by standing close by and listening for a while, you can ask a relevant question and tuck yourself into that conversation.
This sounds a bit silly, but if you dismiss what someone says or tell them they are wrong 2 minutes after you have met them, how do you think they will feel about you after that encounter? A quote I love (which I can't reference)
"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always"
This helps me think about my daily interactions. Life is tough, you are having a bad day. So, maybe, is someone else. What makes you special in this regard? Nothing. Remember that sometimes, just a kind word can change someone's day and, more importantly, mood.
Concentrate on what they have to say
Or another way to say this, is Listen (but that wouldn't fit into my alphabet!). Don't look across the room at other people or see who else is around. Really listen and take in what the person is saying. I tend to write things down and it helps me concentrate on what is being said, but sometimes this may not be appropriate.
By going back to asking questions, you can clarify what they are saying and by repeating some of what they have said in your own words you are more likely to remember it. By listening, you can watch their face and see how they feel about the subjects they are talking about. Again, their face then becomes memorable too.
This goes back to being a listener and being nice. Whilst others are talking, many people are thinking about what they are going to say and get so excited, they talk over someone else. Be more considered with your responses. Wait until there is a gap in conversation. If there isn't one, perhaps you won't get to hold court today. On another day, you may get your spotlight. Often the most quiet person is seen as enigmatic, so once you have spoken, people may think you are the wisest in the room.
This isn't necessary, but for me, meeting new people should always be about seeing how you can help them, by connecting them to someone else or by passing on a little knowledge that could be useful. If you don't exchange details, you won't be able to help them properly and your offers will sound, and be, empty promises. Some people may not want to pass their details to you, so don't sweat it if you don’t.
Follow up with them afterwards...
I am not sure if there is etiquette on this, but if someone has given me their business card, I think it is only courteous to follow up with a message. This can only be done if you have exchanged details. It allows you to follow up with your offer of help or ask any questions that you may have missed when talking with them. As networking is seen as the most basic form of business development, how can you build a good business relationship if you only contact them out of the blue 2 years after you met?
By doing the above, I have managed to have some really interesting conversations with people who know a lot about their specialist subjects. I have learned so much and to me that is the sign of a good day!
If you have any struggles with networking, please let me know, I would be happy to share some advice or I can write further on common themes.”
Ghilaine helps people to run their businesses, making them more productive, efficient and customer focussed, by looking at what isn't working and getting it to run more smoothly.
She helps to save time and money, increase motivation and improve customer relationships, by working to do more with what you already have and spend money wisely to promote growth. She connects ideas and people to solve complex or difficult problems. She likes to make others’ lives easier.
If you liked this post on Business Networking you might also like to read:
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.