Juswant Rai is one of the most prolific, successful networking proponents in the UK. In this article, Juswant offers some of the most practical advice – do’s and don’t’s – when it comes to leveraging networking events and building your success.
DO commit time to networking! Remember that simply turning up at an event will not fix all your problems or challenges. Attending events will increase your visibility to others, but it takes time.
DON’T be afraid to do your research. The first time you attend networking events, you may find yourself slightly daunted by terminology you’re hearing, or the fact that everyone seems to know each other. Persistence and diligence are the key to understanding and acceptance.
DO ask open questions (questions that can’t be answered with a mere “yes” or “no”). Everyone’s favourite subject is themselves, so a great way to begin an interaction is to be interested in who they are.
DON’T assume that business is the only thing that matters when it comes to events. The social aspect of the events are where minds meet, and why people gel together. Remember that the best partnerships begin through rapport and trust.
DO your due diligence on the event itself. You don’t have to be the most knowledgeable person in the room, but you should belong there.
DON’T be afraid to invest in yourself. People happily spend hundreds of pounds on frivolous things that only enrich us temporarily. Investing in networking is a lifetime investment in you!
DO arrive with a purpose and reason to be there. Be clear about what you hope to gain, and the kinds of people you want to meet. You’re far more likely to succeed if your goals are clear.
DON’T appear too desperate. Investors will be put off if you fail to establish trust and rapport before approaching them for money. Remember that networking events are a social gathering of likeminded people who share similar interests. Take the time to become recognised, and put in the effort towards becoming respected.
DO be memorable, and provide value to the people you talk to. You want people to remember your face and your name. Making one or two memorable connections each time will increase your network exponentially within a year.
DON’T assume that the more people you speak to, the more successful you’ll be. You are searching for quality in your conversations and not quantity.
DO take business cards, and make sure they’re clear to read, provide the correct contact information, and if possible, a photograph of yourself. Remember that people might leave an event with twenty business cards, so make sure they are easily able to find you among the pack.
DON’T stick exclusively to the person or persons you arrive with. If taking along your partner or associates, or even if you’re in the same room as someone you know well, remember that you’re not there to talk exclusively to them. Networking is about growing your network. Separate when possible and you’ll increase your reach during the event.
DO follow up on the conversations you have. It only takes a moment, and will show people that you’re serious. Always follow up, and don’t worry about appearing to be pushy. A networking event doesn’t end when the doors close.
DON’T ever discount the impact your appearance will have on your ability to network. Always look presentable, approachable and professional, in order to maximise your appeal.
Networking is the art of making people curious about you, building your personal brand and appeal, and using the power of a social event to help you get to the next level in business!