Employee Development

How to make the most of networking

Many of us are ambivalent about networking. We know its importance to our success, yet we can find it uncomfortable. DRIVE Editor Poppy Faithfull spoke to Enterprise’s European HR Director, Donna Miller, for her top tips on successful networking.

The meaning of networking is building and maintaining professional relationships to gain mutually beneficial contacts with potential for business or career opportunities.

Donna explains this by saying: “With contacts I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I am starting a project. I’m not starting from the ground up. I can get 50% of the way there just by asking some of my contacts for their advice.”

Donna says research is important: for example, follow the Twitter account of people you want to meet and look at the attendee list so you come prepared.

Networking isn’t handing out business cards and walking away, or ‘connecting’ on LinkedIn without follow-up. It’s closely tied with your personal brand.

Maybe set yourself a goal for each event, whether that’s to meet five new people, learn something new or start three conversations.

Nowadays, social networking sites like LinkedIn can help improve networking success without leaving the office.

Donna’s top three tips for successful networking are:

  1. Prepare conversation starters
  2. Listen first, then speak
  3. Practice makes perfect

Make sure your profile is up-to-date: your photo, work experience, content, everything! Donna encourages people to engage with their network by sharing relevant articles, useful resources and providing a hub for discussion.

With contacts I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I am starting a project. I’m not starting from the ground up. I can get 50% of the way there just by asking some of my contacts for their advice.

Networking isn’t handing out business cards and walking away, or “connecting” on LinkedIn without follow-up. It’s closely tied with your personal brand. Donna says, “you want to be the person in the room that others want to meet.”

Set goals, explore shared interests, add value, and you’ll become more effective at building relationships that bear fruit for everyone.

by Poppy Faithfull

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