Generally, networking is explained as the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. Networking often begins with a single point of common ground.
But what is networking about, indeed? There are 3 main concepts of networking among public members:
- Networking is a practice of compiling a huge database of names, usually by collecting business cards;
- Networking is an opportunity to meet people and personally prospect for business;
- Networking as nothing more than schmoozing and boozing, with no specific intention except to be seen and socialize.
5 Ways how to network more efficiently
The same principles can be used for good self-presentation in the job market and successful networking as well. It is important to be able to present yourself and your idea in a way that is not only heard by others, but also trusted. Especially, if you are new in the room and there is nobody who can introduce you.
1. Be selective. Quality of your contacts is the first and the main reason behind your success. The process of effective networking begins by being very selective with who you bring into your circle of relationship. Look for people who are good at what they do and have a positive, supportive attitude. It is important to build meaningful relationships over an extended period of time.
2. Understand the purpose of your introductory message and trust it. No matter what the topic of your talk is – a brief presentation of yourself in person, in front of the audience or in a job interview – it is important to understand what your purpose as a speaker is. Answer the question for yourself, what do you mean by your message – to convince, to inform or just to entertain?
With your introduction, you should achieve a very clear goal (to get an employment contract, an important appointment, to introduce yourself to a decision-making person, etc.) in a specific span of time, e. g. 1-2 minutes. And to make it easier to do that, you have to know the topic and to trust it.
An excellent knowledge of the topic gives the speaker self-confidence and helps to connect with his audience. By being honest with the listener, clearly showing what and why is important to you, and not hiding enthusiasm, you can expect his response in the same vibe.
3. Focus on the needs of your listener(s). Always keep in mind what your listener needs and what he wants to know, not what you can tell him.
When presenting yourself or your idea, you also need to focus on and respond to the listener’s reaction. Smile and make eye contact. This sounds very simple, but surprisingly many people can’t do this. If you smile and make eye contact, you make the connection. It also helps you feel less nervous because you are talking to an individual rather than a stranger.
4. Use not only your voice but also your body language. The spoken word is not the most effective means of communication, as it focuses on only one of the five senses of the audience.
However, using your voice effectively can help improve the spoken word. By changing the speed of speech and emphasizing changes in pitch and tone, your voice will become more interesting and grab the listener’s attention.
Another important thing that the studies show is that more than 3/4 of the communication takes place in a non-verbal way. This means that not only the tone of voice but also the language of the body is very important to convey the message. Avoid putting hands behind your back or in your pockets. Use gestures that reveal your openness and self-confidence, move naturally.
5. Tell a story. Communication is specific to every human culture, and storytelling helps us build an emotional connection. If you can build empathy in your listener, you are on your way to a successful relationship.
Stories help not only to draw and retain the attention of the listeners, but also to memorize important things. You can start your message with a story, or better yet, make your message work as a story.
To tell a story effectively, use at least one of two main storytelling mechanisms in your presentation. First, it focuses on the actors – the people (you, your family member, neighbour, boss, etc.) – not the objects, the data, and the objects. The second is the dynamism of history, the changes taking place in it.
Name of the activity:
Let’s do networking!
The aim of the activity:
It helps to maintain a clear structure of the meeting and allows dozens of participants to get to know each other better in a short period of time
Skills that the activity develops:
Networking, communication, team spirit
How many people the activity is suited for:
Time requirement for the activity:
How many instructors are needed?
One “watchguard” – a person who checks the time of each presentation and stops a presenter after his/her time is exceeded.
Describe the activity in a clear and concise manner:
Prepare a brief and clear introductory message up to 1 minute long about yourself and needs you have, e.g., imagine yourself looking for a job placement. The message has to include:
- Your name and surname
- Educational and professional background
- What you are good at
- What do you expect from the meetings, especially if there are people that you don’t know from before?
- What feedback do you expect (e.g., smiles, questions, invitation to have a private meeting etc.)?
Try to make your message look like a story.
Read your message aloud to yourself. Can you easily pronounce all the words? How much of your body language do you need to convey the message to the audience in a clear and understandable way?
Give a clear message to your audience. Watch their reaction. Are they interested and engaged?
If a “watchguard” stops before you end your introduction, rethink your introductory message. Did it take too much time to explain some certain situations? How do you feel interrupted by a “watchguard”?