How to network effectively

How to network effectively

According to the Oxford language dictionary, Networking is the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

Networking can be a frustrating or fruitful endeavor depending on who is involved or who you talk to. Kampala is awash with networking events in different hotels and other spaces. But what is the essence of networking? How can it be done effectively?

According to Forbes, “True networking occurs when there’s an understanding that everyone in the room has equal value. In its purest form, it’s about people enjoying other people, communicating passions and connecting with others who share those passions. It’s about listening, figuring out what others need and connecting them with people you think can help, without any designs for personal gain. ‘’

Here are a few tips on networking effectively:

Plan and prepare always.

Before attending a networking event, have a plan. This plan constitutes a question-and-answer session. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to talk about? How can you help others? Answering these questions will enable you to be prepared adequately for the networking event. Also, think about questions other people may ask you and prepare short and concise answers.

Know your value.

When planning to attend a networking event, be certain of what value you bring to the table. What are your strengths, connections and skillset? What do you have to offer to others?

This will make the process easy as you will know what to offer and not offer the people you connect with. This will save you time.

Be generous

According to Forbes, Generosity is an attractive quality and it’s something special that people will remember about you.

In a world where everyone is trying to serve themselves, try to help others. At a networking event, people are usually in the same room with people they have no access to and the temptation is to front what they want instead of listening to what the other person wants/needs and solving that issue. Let your goal be to serve others. Put others before yourself.

See the value in everyone

Everyone has value and is important. Do not dismiss people on the basis of titles when networking. Talk to everyone with respect and enthusiasm. This will help you connect with them and in turn, see the value they are offering. It could be connections, talent, skills, etc.

Remember names.

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says that a person`s name is a sweet sound to him or her. We all like to hear our names. Imagine you`re at a networking event and someone walks up to you and calls you by name. The effect is magnificent, right? Imagine you doing the same for other people who have introduced themselves to you.

Smile!

This sounds like a simple thing that people do effortlessly but it is not. Remember to smile as you network. Do not walk around grumpy or with a scowl. A smile is inviting and disarms anyone. Greet people with a smile. Introduce yourself with a smile. It also amplifies your confidence levels in a room full of people.

Practice active listening

In How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, he asserts that people love to talk about themselves. This happens in a networking space. Apply the art of active listening where you listen to others speak not so that you respond but to gain insight into who they are and what they do/have to offer. Be a good listener and speak at the right time. Ask the right questions. People always remember those they had a good conversation with.

Follow up.

Do not make promises you cannot keep. If you promised to email someone a report, article, phone contact or website, do it. Get their card and take the time to do it amidst the everyday busyness. This simple act could lead to life-changing results for the people involved.

Networking does not only happen at organised events. It can happen on your way to work, in a taxi/uber, wedding, party because we are constantly meeting and connecting with people. Be sure to try the above tips and if things do not go as you hoped, do not despair. Try again.