What value does face to face networking bring?

Goodlife_Careers-6035

This topic has been top of mind for me this week. I saw a sponsored Facebook post pop up in my feed saying, “Grow your business without having to network”. The ad was selling an online sales strategy – a model that often saturates our social media feeds and inboxes (if lured to their freebies in exchange for our email address). Whilst I have been looking at boosting my coaching business’s online strategy, and can see this model’s potential for success, I am mindful of getting the right level of authenticity when promoting my services, especially in the online world.

So, what does this have to do with networking?

I have always actively put myself ‘out there’ to meet others. In person. This has been a successful marketing tool for my business. I enjoy the organic nature of this approach and feel there is strength in building meaningful professional relationships. My business offers coaching to people to help manage their career and job search with proactive networking techniques and I find that most people are initially resistant to networking because it seems ‘salesy’. It doesn’t have to be and here’s why:

  • Start with coffee conversations. Who can you catch up with that you haven’t seen for a while?
  • Know your story. What’s going on for you in business, work or life? Share what’s working well and don’t be afraid to talk briefly about a specific challenge if you think it’s appropriate. They might have the answer you need.
  • Understand you values and motivators. This is pretty important as these are the things that drive you. Is there a particular cause or project you truly care about or hold close to your heart? This answer’s the question about WHY we do things.
  • Know your offering. How do you make a difference in business, work or life? What is your particular area of expertise and how does it transform or help others?

Knowing yourself well leads to understanding and promoting your personal and professional brand. When this is clear you can give an essence of ‘you’ both in person and across social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram (these are my top three). These online tools encourage and help people to engage which can lead to connecting directly via messaging and/or being directed to your website to find out more.

Now, back to the coffee conversations…

  • Be curious about the person you’re meeting with. Whether it’s a colleague, friend, school parent, potential client treat the conversation with friendly professionalism and ask – what’s news with you? Actively listen to their story and if you have a tip, advice, can refer them or simply a sounding board, then you are being generous with your time and energy.
  • Follow up with a short appreciative email or text if you think it’s appropriate and share any info you said you’d follow up on.
  • Connect on social media if you haven’t already (using the right tool for the audience – I often suggest LinkedIn as it’s the most professional).

Networking doesn’t just happen over coffee or social media though. It happens all the time. Here’s some ways that I connect (that have led to successful business referrals):

  • Cohoots coworking meeting roomCoworking space
  • Contracting
  • Train / commute
  • Short course / conference
  • Committees
  • Business association
  • Volunteering / community involvement
  • Friends and family
  • Hairdresser (think about it – they chat with lots of people every day!)

To summarise, know your value, your offering, your area of expertise and tell your story far and wide. And be yourself. No one needs the pressure of someone directly selling something. It’s much easier to be genuine in your conversations and people will be interested to find out more. By following up with an email or social media connection keeps the conversation going and if they want to engage further they know where to find you. You never know when the people you meet and the discussions you have will lead to a job opportunity or a business referral so think about the message you give.

I’ve written step by step tips to strengthen your networking skills HERE.

I’ve also included information to Simon’s Sinek’s ‘Start with Why‘ as I think it’s a good way to remind us of our purpose.

Get in touch with Genevieve for a coaching session on networking skills or how to optimise your LinkedIn.

Top image by photographer Lucy Foster of LuLu Snap
Smaller image taken by Gen

 

Are you on LinkedIn?

LinkedInWhen I meet new people in a professional setting I often ask if they are on LinkedIn.  They may be a potential client, someone who can add value to my business or a job seeker I’m working with.  LinkedIn is a professional networking site and many companies use this tool as a means of recruiting staff.

When it comes to landing a job, your LinkedIn profile acts as the online version of your resume.  I’m going to share with you 10 ways to strengthen your profile and ensure you are optimising your professional brand with this online platform. Continue reading “Are you on LinkedIn?”

How To Open Doors

Handleby Genevieve Ward

The last few weeks I’ve been super busy juggling my business activities between working with clients, marketing via social media, preparing presentation slides, responding to emails and building my professional contacts.  All important and exciting stuff to keep my business moving forward and thankfully my efforts are paying off!  I’ve started working with some local people to hone their job search skills, I’m presenting to graduate librarians on interview techniques and I’ve joined a local think tank.  I attribute these recent successes to networking. Continue reading “How To Open Doors”

Staying Positive in Your Job Search

Sunflowerby Genevieve Ward

Equipped with a fabulous resume and a well-written cover letter, you’ve been busy submitting applications for that perfect job, but frustratingly the phone isn’t ringing.  When you’re in-between jobs or returning to work after a break, seeking employment can test one’s patience and feel disheartening.

So, how do you manage to stay positive in your job search?  Here are my top five techniques: Continue reading “Staying Positive in Your Job Search”

Telling Your Story

Creating YourselfPeople love to hear what you’re up to.  Everyone’s got a story to tell.  How do you make it work well for you?

When I set up my career coaching business in 2012 I was so busy mastering basic bookkeeping that not much thought was given to my business branding.  I was good a working through my lists, setting up resources and planning how to market, but I hadn’t considered my message about what I do. Continue reading “Telling Your Story”