In a coaching session last week my client, Zara* was sharing her ideas in setting up a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation. As she was speaking I noticed myself pondering who I might know that could help her. I made a couple of suggestions then stopped and asked, ‘What is it that you need most help with?’ She replied, ‘I need to speak with someone who has already set up a successful NFP.’ Done. I knew just the person and sent an e-introduction. They are now on their way to meeting up and Zara is shouting my friend lunch.
Super smooth and super easy. It’s called networking. It’s not the sleazy or salesly process that everyone imagines. And it’s not about seeing how many business cards you can swap at a business function. It’s being clear about what you need and finding the people you need to speak with. Plus, making it easy to facilitate that meeting.
To have a targeted or strategic approach to networking here are four key tips:
- Know yourself – What do you want to achieve? What do you need help with?
- Tell your story – prepare a 30 minute spiel about what you do, your strengths, how you add value and what you’re looking to do next
- Ask the person – “What are your challenges right now?” You may have some advice for them or know someone who could help.
- Also ask – “Can you suggest someone else who I could talk?”
If you’re setting up the meeting, be prepared to shout the coffee or lunch plus follow up with a thank you email/message. These meetings generally run smoothly because a coffee/lunch is a typically pleasant and relaxed experience so remember to be yourself – what’s the worst that can happen?
I was recently contacted by a woman on LinkedIn called Karalyn from Interview IQ who invited me for coffee in Melbourne CBD. We both run successful career coaching businesses and follow each others’ blogs. I often find that talking to peers in my field of great value where tips are shared about better ways or approaches to our work, plus the opportunity to collaborate. I met with Karalyn on Tuesday and after a solid hour hearing about each others’ experiences with business and coaching strategies and what works well, we left the meeting agreeing to support each other by cross promoting across our social media platforms and perhaps recording a podcast together!
How will YOU set about networking and connecting with others?
- Run through your LinkedIn contacts list and message people you would feel comfortable meeting up with.
- Make a list of everyone in your social circles (and community groups) – noting where they work or what field they’re in and message them to suggest hooking up.
- Invite people at work for a coffee and find out more about what they do.
- Seek out industry associations and groups in your field (or the field you’re interested in). Register AND turn up! Bring a friend if you need to. 😊
Whilst the person you meet with may not have the job prospect (or opportunity) it’s likely they’ll know the best person from their network who will. So how will YOU proactively drive your career through actively connecting with others?
*some names changed to protect client confidentiality.
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