HL: Networking skills are critical

Helen Nicholson is a business networking specialist. For a free copy of Helen Nicholson’s e-book on “The best elevator speech” and “Working the room” go to http://www.thenetworkingcompany.co.za

To build quality relationships, you need to make the time and effort. It will not happen without you taking ownership of your actions.

While relationship building takes both sides, you should not sit back and wait for people to come to you. Be proactive and seek out the people who you want to meet.

In addition, you should be proactive in managing your existing relationships. Stay in front of your network so you are top of mind.

Building the right kind of relationships will help you to accelerate your career and business. Take ownership of making that happen.

Here are a few ways to be proactive in building your relationships:

  • Attend industry events to meet the speakers who are thought leaders
  • Leverage LinkedIn to target specific people
  • Ask your existing network for introductions
  • Reach out to published thought leaders
  • Contact journalists who write about interesting people
  • Read and comment on blogs of those who you want to meet
  • Re-tweet thoughts from experts

Keep in mind that you can create your own destiny. You should take appropriate actions so you can get in front of those who you want to meet.

Walking into a function where you do not know anyone is intimidating even for the biggest extrovert. The best mingling technique is to look for groups of three people to break into conversation with. If you break into groups of two you are almost always interrupting their conversation. When you identify a group of three people chatting, stand next to them and overhear what their conversation is about. If you have something in common with them, then you make your move to break into the conversation. Overhearing what they are talking about is a very important step because if you do not have anything in common with them, it is pointless breaking in as then you will be stuck with people with which you have nothing in common.

When there is an appropriate pause you confidently introduce yourself, picking up on the conversation cues and making eye contact with the entire group. The next big issue then is “Do you have something to say?” In my experience small talk leads to big talk, so it is a vital skill to develop. Reading broadly around a variety of subjects immediately puts you ahead of the small-talk game.

Helen Nicholson


The Networking Company



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