Thursday, December 11, 2014

Venture Accelerator | The 5 Types Of People You Meet When Networking | The Women's Organisation's Top Tips For Networking

Networking. It’s a word that will make many of us break out in a cold sweat. The idea of walking into a room full of people you don’t know and immediately begin interacting with them, learning about them and telling them about yourself, is not the easiest task, even for the most confident of people. Some businessmen and women are unsure about networking. Is it just an excuse for a chinwag and a couple of free drinks, or can it be a productive and proactive way to meet people, make connections and further each other’s careers and businesses?
At The Women’s Organisation, we know that networking is fantastic…If done properly. For us, networking is more than just a buzzword. It’s probably the best opportunity you will ever have to make connections, build relationships and help yourself and others in the networking group succeed. Networking with like-minded individuals is also a great way to explore new career options, learn about a specific industry, gather insights from peers on critical business issues and grow professionally.

But beware! Of people who don’t take networking as professionally as they can! Here, The Women’s Organisation will give you the rundown on the 5 types of people you might encounter at a networking event, and our top tips on how to interact with them, and network successfully.

1.The Card Collector

Who are they?

Everyone knows this one. They've plastered their business card into your hands before they've even shaken it, or tucked it in your pocket when you weren't looking. The Card Collector’s aim is to try and meet as many people as possible when networking. They've set themselves an aim, and they’re not leaving until they've interacted with all 100 people at the event. Our best tip when meeting the Card Collector, is to remain polite and pleasant, but don’t expect an email in your inbox tomorrow!

The W.O’s top tip

Having an aim before attending a networking event is a great thing to do. So don't arrive at a networking event without a plan of attack. First, find out which person or organization is sponsoring the event. Next, see if there will be speakers, presenters or any special guests in attendance. Last, make a list of people you expect to be there and want to meet. Do a little research on each of them. A little knowledge goes a long way. If you know something about the people you approach, it's much easier to start a conversation -- and keep it going. And you won’t run the risk of becoming a Card Collector! No one wants to end up with a drawer full of dusty business cards and no real connections

2. The Wallflower

Who are they?

No one is quite sure who they are…Glen Gould, networking expert and author of ‘Is Your Networking Working?’ and ‘101 Networking Nuggets’ says; ‘Wallflowers come to networking events and spend most of their time hugging the wall. Once encountered by another, Wallflowers quickly leave, because they find the entire experience so uncomfortable’. And to be honest, we can understand why! Networking can be difficult for those not comfortable interacting with new people.

Our best tip for interacting with Wallflowers is…being nice! Don’t force them into an interaction they’re not comfortable with, but by being friendly, you can make them feel slightly more at ease. Although try not to get too upset, if you turn around and they’ve disappeared!

The W.O’s top tip

If you know yourself that you have a tendency to be a bit of a wallflower, here’s what we recommend! An easy way to relax at a networking function is to take the focus off yourself by first listening to the other person. This technique also helps you gain insights as to how that contact can help you, making the connection that much stronger. 

Stylist Magazine in their article ‘How To Network Without Being Annoying’ writes; ‘Be brave. Sadly, there’s no magic formula, just take a deep breath and dive in. Admit from the start if there’s something you don’t know about, and ask questions – often your perspective will be different and interesting so try not to get bogged down if you feel like you’ve said something silly.’

     3. The Social-Lite

Who are they?

A great phrase we have discovered. The Social-Lite is heavy on the social side, and lite on the professional networking. This party animal is most likely only here for the free food and drinks, and they’re unashamedly unreserved about this. Sure everyone enjoys having a glass of wine or two, and not having to fork out for it, but the Social-Lite takes this one step too far. They may be ever so slightly entertaining after that fourth glass of champagne, but they might not remember you’re interaction as well as you do in the morning! Our best tip for interacting with the Social-Lite, is exactly that, keep things light! Don’t expect you are going to wake up tomorrow to a phone call from them offering you a new business venture, but they certainly did make you smile!

The W.O’s top tip

Bernie Cox, our fantastic Training Co-ordinator has some stern words on this topic:
It isn’t a party. Remember why you're here. The purpose of a networking event is to help you advance professionally. It's a social event -- but a professional one. Think of it as a conference social or a business dinner. The cardinal rule of networking events: Never get drunk. We all remember what happened to Melanie Griffith in ‘Working Girl’ you want the people you meet to remember you as capable, competent and polished -- not as the person who was wearing a lampshade on their head at the end of the evening.

       4. The Social-Media Addict

Who are they?

They haven’t looked up from their phone since they entered the room. They’ve already tweeted about the event, changed their profile picture on Facebook and requested you as a connection on Linkedin. Perhaps they’ve forgotten how to interact without their Iphone 5/ The Social-Media Addict will keep their phone in their hand at all times, dash out the door to take that very important phone call, and still send you a friend request in the morning. Our best advice for dealing with this tech-savvy individual is to stand your ground. Don’t feel pressured into befriending them because it will look good on the internet. If you feel as though nothing genuine or progressive will come out of their interaction, politely move on and talk to someone else.

The W.O’s top tip

If you feel at risk on becoming a Social-Media Addict when at a networking event, try turning your phone on silent. Try putting it in your bag or in your pocket and not getting it back out for half an hour. The world won’t end, and yes, you may feel naked without the comfort of that LED screen, but if you’ve meet someone within that half an hour, made a genuine face to face connection rather than a new Facebook friend. You’re on the way to becoming a fantastic networker!

      5. The Ultimate Networker

Who are they?

And last but not least, the person we all want to be…The Ultimate Networker. The person who meets a lot of people, but not too many people. The person, who makes you feel great when you speak to them, listens to what you have to say and engages you in interesting conversation. On these people, Gould says of these people that they; ‘understand that networking events are for meeting perhaps three to five quality connections in the hopes to find a way to help them expand their network’ By seeing networking as not only a way to help themselves but also as a way to help others, The Ultimate Networker is the type of person you want to meet at an event! If you happen to stumble across this rare breed of networker,be sure to watch how they interact, what they do that makes people feel at ease, and how you can learn from them.

The W.O’s top tip

It takes time to become comfortable and confident at networking, no one is expecting anyone to become a pro after a month of events. Be patient with yourself and don’t push yourself too hard at the start. Our top tip that we’ve learnt from a powerful networker is; when receiving someone’s business card at an event, make sure you have a pen handy to jot down notes about the interaction so you can make connections of value later.

At the end of the day, at The Women’s Organisation, we believe networking is a great use of time, it can be fun and definitely rewarding, and it’s a way to grow your business through making contancts and connections.
If you own your business and think you may already be a dab hand at networking, The Women’s Organisation has a challenge for you…

Women business owners in Greater Manchester can benefit from FREE support to take their business to the next level with The Women's Organisation. The Women's Organisation who have been working in the north west since 1996 offering enterprise support to women, can offer business growth consultancy to local women through their Venture Accelerator business growth programme in Greater Manchester.

Through Venture Accelerator women can be linked with a specialist business growth advisor who will offer tailored support to take their business to the next level. Programme Manager Mike Marsden and the Venture Accelerator team have already supported a number of local businesses to expand their team through apprenticeship schemes, funding for growth and looking at organisational structure.

The Venture Accelerator Programme runs to June 2015 and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. If you are a women-led business in the Greater Manchester area and you would like free advice to build your staff team or grow your turnover, contact programme manager to find out more about the help The Women's Organisation can offer, and follow @TheWomenOrgManc on twitter.   

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