The more you know yourself, what you stand for, your values and skillset, and importantly how you can add value to others – the easier it will be to network!
Elevator pitch will definitely help you to effortlessly introduce yourself in the minimum amount of time with the maximum impact. How do you build one? Summarise in one-two sentences what you did in the past, where you are at now and what you are looking for (goals for the future). You can also create one based on your purpose – who do you serve and how?
Be interested and be interesting. Remember -people like talking about themselves! What prompted them to attend this event, is it their first time? Ask them quality questions! Once you have built rapport you can ask them more specific questions around what they do, their challenges/ successes/ latest trends in their industry. Offer interesting stories about your life and work.
When it comes to yourself, apart from the formal intro and elevator pitch, why not talk about something unique to you – maybe you have just returned from a trekking holiday or retreat, maybe you are into fitness/kick-boxing, or yoga, book clubs and concerts? Put it in the context of a work-related conversation, sprinkle with some (self-deprecating) humour, and look for ‘pegs’ or ‘hooks’ in the conversation where you have overlapping interests/ you know the same people/ you have gone through a similar career path…Synergy is always a must, in order to build rapport.
If you are coming from the point of ‘How can I help you?’ or ‘How can I add value?’ you will be achieving a couple of very positive things: by taking the emphasis off yourself and placing it on the other party, you can relax and talk about them; by offering value/help/introductions/insight, of course, in accordance with what they have just told you, you will be scoring great points in their books and they will likely offer the same/similar.
Look for contacts everywhere and all the time. How many times do we separate personal and professional contacts, only to discover that they may have a lot in common, and that by talking to someone at the gym – you can get all sorts of super useful information, whether it is about local events, someone they know in an industry you are interested in, or they could be your next financial advisor or mortgage broker, your guitar teacher or dog walker! Be curious, genuinely interested in learning about others. Nothing is as interesting as real-life stories, and that’s where you can get your case studies, your tips and tricks, as well as any referrals and recommendations.
Networking is about win-win. Sometimes it is even win-win-win! I absolutely love connecting people and leaving them to it – often interesting and fruitful collaborations spring up. As a career coach, I use my network to help my clients and that has been priceless – in terms of putting them in touch with industry experts, recruiters, leads where they can enquire about jobs, mentors and anyone else that can give them information, feedback, referral…Sometimes they come back to me and we jump on a joint project – win-win-win!
The purpose of professional networking is to gain information, increase your visibility and credibility in your field, and establish personal connections that will help you advance in your career, open new opportunities and even collaborate. Ideally, you will also want to enjoy it and have fun!
Pay it forward. I totally believe in this principle and live by it in my everyday life, and not just in networking. I always try to help others, as much as possible, especially those who are on their journey a few steps behind me. I share freely and happily. I believe in abundance in every sense and if you do – you are not afraid to give! And it always comes back, from someone else, totally unexpectedly, and opens new doors, new opportunities, new adventures. It ALWAYS does.
About the author
Jelena is an award-winning Career Fulfilment Coach, passionate about helping conscious, aspiring professionals thrive in the careers they love. With 25 years in international recruitment and education management and CTI coaching qualification, she brings together unique insights into how recruiters think and how personal coaches work. Jelena has also worked with spiritual teachers such as John DeMartini and Deepak Chopra and infuses love, joy and spirit into her coaching and everything she does. Through WhatWork, her career coaching consultancy, she offers individual and group coaching for Career Transitions as well as Interview coaching. She often speaks at events on Career Fulfilment, How to Make Conscious Career Decisions, Effortless Networking, Interview Skills for the 21st Century, to name a few.