If you’re like me, networking can be a bit of a mystery. How on Earth people manage to walk confidently up to total strangers and suddenly hit it off and negotiate business deals and move up the career ladder like that I really don’t know. I always thought that some people were just more ‘chatty’ and so were more able to be comfortable in a room of strangers.
But as it turns out, there is a lot more to it than just being a chatty personality type. You can be an introvert, or an extravert and still not really know how to network. In fact, if you talk too much, people can easily get bored of you and then not be interested in helping you grow your brand (or help you climb the ladder of success).
Thankfully the clouds of mystery were blown away by #SHE1000, a networking workshop at IFSEC, held at the Health & Safety Expo. Festooned with prosecco and cupcakes, it wasn’t the typical sort of seminar that one usually finds at IFSEC, having spent much of my time in the various seminars at FIREX digesting technical information about fire safety standards.
#SHE1000 might have been aimed at women, and yep, here at FIA HQ we’ve been waving the ‘we support women in the industry’ flag (because, you know, we do), but there was so much useful advice about networking that could apply to anyone – male or female, young or old, that could actually help.
SHE1000: How to Network
Learn how to network to further your career
Heather White, a networking expert who ran the session, was a delight to watch with her comedic impressions of awkward social situations combined with really practical information about how to join a group of strangers (scary!), how to make a decent first impression, and how to avoid being boring: talking about the weather and transport were subjects that were to be completely and utterly banned.
Instead, Heather gets people talking about things that matter – getting people to share ideas – which has so much more impact on people around you than saying that you wish you’d brought an umbrella and ‘I’m sorry but could you tell me where the toilet is?’
I was amazed when Heather’s simple mantra was introduced – ‘If I don’t get you, I can’t help you.’ You have to make people see you. Make them see who you are and what you do, in a concise neat way. They have to ‘get’ you. And thankfully, whilst you might be wondering how on Earth to do that, Heather makes it easy.
Everything is presented in such a way that you immediately feel at ease. No frills, no awkwardness, no ‘must do this’ style presenting, just practical things that you can do to improve your confidence and make better connections through improved conversation skills. Simple little things like learning to introduce yourself better, getting people’s names right (and making sure that people remember yours) – because let’s face it, once the initial introduction is done, how daft do you feel asking for the person’s name all over again? Because how can you build a good connection with someone if you can’t even remember their name or what they do for a job?
The fact is, it seems everyone is like this. What if you’re the person that everyone forgets the name of the second you introduce yourself? What if people can’t remember what your job is? It all comes back to that little saying again – ‘If I don’t get you, I can’t help you.’
Lucky for you – if you missed the event, we will be releasing the video of the full event very shortly, so you can watch and learn all of these things for yourself. Just head to our YouTube channel and subscribe and you’ll be the first to see the full video there.
And of course, when you’ve seen the video, you can put everything you’ve learned into practice at one of the FIA’s events.
28 March 2017
By Martin Duggan, FIA General Manager
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