26/07/2012

By Will Kintish, Business Networking Skills And LinkedIn Authority

Networking is simply building relationships and yet there are a number of people who attend business events who don’t seem to understand the first thing about how to go about it. Building relationships takes time; if you are a member of the Impatience Society networking isn’t for you. The first principle of building relationships is about giving and having an abundance mentality. It’s not about What’s in it for me, the true test of a good networker is the modern way of communication WII-FY i.e. What’s in it for you? Ask questions such as ‘can I introduce you to someone here?’ or ‘How will I know if someone I’m talking to will be a good introduction for you?’

When we give to others, whether it is a referral, a useful piece of information or just our full attention when talking to others at events people tend to not just like you but sometimes feel indebted to you which can only help build continuing relationships

You know the type. The people with obnoxious laughs, pushy pitches, and the ability to corner you at industry conferences and talk about themselves continuously for what seems like hours? The ones who clearly mean well, but their lack of etiquette can make you wish you hadn't even gone?

Introduce yourself by clearly stating your name and making eye contact while you shake their hand, Weak handshakes turn people off, so practice yours with a friend to make sure it's neither bone-crushing nor wimpy.

No one needs to hear your entire work history upon meeting you. If someone asks you to tell them a bit about yourself, your explanation from start to finish shouldn't take more than 30 to 60 seconds.

This is especially true when you're networking with people who don't work in your industry. Going into the nitty gritty details of your specific skills and interests in chemical engineering will likely go over the head of someone who works in management consulting or marketing. Most people begin by reciting their resume in reverse chronological order; just don’t bore people they won’t be interested not at first anyway.

Instead, you should start with what you want to do -- your destination -- then a brief back story, and connect the dots between them. Share what's relevant, not what's recent. The latest thing you've been working on might not be related to what you want to do next.

Don't Tell a Sob Story

No matter how tough it's been, you need to paint a positive picture when you're making new connections. Potential employers or connections aren't going to bring on people who are down in the dumps just to make them feel better. They want people who project a good, can-do attitude, and who will be energetic and excited about the position, she says, not people who are just excited to have a job.

Complaining in general has no place in networking – whether it's about unemployment, how tough your job is, or how bad your former employer was. In this economy, people say 'How's business?' and they'll actually tell you! It doesn't do any good to complain about how bad business or the economy is. People hate doing business with people who are miserable and negative

It's not ok to pass along an unsolicited resume. Offline or online, you need to work on forming a relationship with someone before you ask them for anything at all. Many people overlook this professional courtesy, and ask brand new connections to serve as a referral when submitting a resume or application.

Don't ask strangers for a job. You can't ask someone to do a favour for you who you don't have a relationship with. It's unprofessional, tacky and ineffective.

How ‘not nice’ people behave!

When you think cowboy, on the one hand you think Wild West & Indians. On the other hand we think of cowboys, people who are unprofessional, they con people, aren’t listening ………salesmen, in the very negative sense of the word.

I can only generalise but you know what I mean when I say there are many more male cowboys.

What behaviours do we see from these people when we attend business connected events?

1. When we meet him for the first time, there isn’t good eye contact. He didn’t look at you as you shake hands. Oh and that sloppy loose handshake. Or, conversely, the too friendly greeting, he grips your hand with both hands; he wants to be in control immediately.

2. You will see too much eye contact. He stares far too long or at the worst they undress the opposite gender with their eyes.

3. He tries to get friendly far too quickly. He tells inappropriate anecdotes or jokes often smutty. He asks inappropriate questions like ‘do you live alone?’ or ‘perhaps we should get together after this event for dinner?’.

4. He lacks integrity dropping names to the wrong people at the wrong time.

5. He doesn’t bother getting to know your name. Or if he does try a bit he gets it wrong. (Editors note. When you meet new people use first names only. Listen and repeat their name. People tend not to forget names they just don’t hear and are too embarrassed to say.)

6. He talks far too much and takes control. Not interested in you at all and simply loves talking about himself. He will hijack a conversation

7. He’s a toucher. Nothing wrong with that at the correct time and the appropriate settings. But these cowboys do it too soon in the beginning of the relationship.

8. He tries too hard to be interesting. He’ll talk jargon and may even get his marketing literature out expecting you to go over it with him line by line.

9. If he spots an opportunity he doesn’t know how to follow up properly and carefully. He ends up pestering not knowing that ‘no’ is ‘no’

Ensure that no-one can ever accuse you of being a networking cowboy (or cowgirl!)

Networking is simply building relationships. How can anyone do that with the sort of behaviours listed?