How to network || Part Two

I remember attending the launch of The Conversation at the Apple Store. Hosted by Amanda De Cadanet and Edith Bowman, the room was filled to the brim with interesting, curious and engaging people.

The show displayed a mixture of celebrities (Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Fonda, Miley Cyrus) and not so known women talking about a host of topics; from marriage to career to sex.

The angle of the interview is focused around the particular issue in discussion i.e. the breakdown of a marriage and hearing how the interviewee found the resolve. The emphasis is on the story and the process, rather than the usual chat show promotion of 'Oh, by the way my book/album/tv show is out next week'.

Without the undertone of 'selling', even the most famous celebrities seem like 'one of us'. This results in the viewer receiving helpful advice and tips to help them go forward, a structure that will show them there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a reassuring 'hug' of 'you can get through this difficult time'.

Networking can bring up anxiety and hesitation for even the most confident. I would consider myself a confident person, but I have often found myself loitering in a corner, staring at my phone, hoping it would ring with an excuse to allow me to leave this busy room, full of strangers immediately. 

Here are some easy, actionable nuggets I came up with: 

1) Say yes to the invitation

Life is busy (and sometimes a little chilly outside in the UK) and we can often come up with a million and one excuses not to go, ‘I’m tired’, ‘I have an early start’ ‘I probably won’t get anything from it’. However sometimes an event once attended, can have the opposite effect- it can be a positive experience, leave you refreshed and empowered and with renewed motivation. Surprise yourself and say yes and see what happens.

2) Talk to people as if you are not networking

Don’t immediately ask ‘So what do you do then?’ Many people are experiencing changes or unpredictability in their career at the moment so this question may not be received fondly. Start up a conversation about the event, or ask about their life, other events they have been to and share your knowledge. You never know how many similarities you may have.

3) Notice your body language

Many people have experienced being greeted by ‘arms folded’ and no eye contact as their eyes are scanning the room to make sure there is not someone more fascinating to talk and it doesn’t feel great. Remain open and relaxed and let the conversation flow. Notice where you hold your tension in your body and try and loosen where you can. 

4) Ask

We all have things we would like to do but are not sure how to achieve them. However just saying them out loud can move the process along quickly. How many times have you said in passing at a dinner party, ‘Oh I need a business card/a cleaner/a holiday recommendation/advice on where to eat etc.?’ and you immediately receive a plethora of answers. Start to ask. Ask open questions and you will very quickly hear the answers you need. We all love sharing information and helping others so don’t be afraid. Plus you may have the piece of information someone else needs.

5) Say thank you

Life is fast paced, but it is still the small details that matter. Saying thank you is priceless and often produces unexpected amazing results as a bonus in the future. We have all been through times where we have really helped someone out, given your time, recommended or hooked them up with someone else and then never heard from them again. It doesn’t feel great and does put a dampener on the situation. Instead have a look at ways you can thank others. Everyone loves thoughtful cards, glorious flowers or a cheeky cupcake. Notice the moments when you can give thanks…people really do remember.