When entering a networking function, what mindset are you in? Are you there for the free food and entertainment or are you there to work?
Admittedly, networking isn’t the easiest thing to master, but what I do know, is that the correct mindset can separate the best from the rest.
Working from home for the 7th week in a row now, got me thinking about the book I am currently reading by Louis P. Frankel Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office. She talks about the important How’s to avoid making unconscious mistakes that can sabotage your career… and being reasonably new to the workforce, this has become my bible to ensuring I don’t sabotage my own potential.
Here are the How’s that Louis P. Frankel taught me to improve my networking game.
How you Act
“Chance favors the prepared mind” – Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office, Louis P. Frankel
We all love a good yarn about the kids or the recent results of the weekends sporting match, but the most common mistake, is not capitalising on that comfort to segway into a business discussion. Preparation never fails, which is why knowing in advance who will be attending can increase your opportunity to address business matters in a social environment. Do your homework, don’t sit back as background noise, educate yourself on industry related topics so you can contribute to discussions or maybe even begin one.
How you Look
We’re all adults here, so I’m not going to tell you how to dress, however I do want to mention smiling inappropriately (as Louis P. Frankel calls it) during networking. When you have finally redirected into that business conversation, matching your facial expressions to your message is harder than it looks. Trust me, you think you used your inside expressions, but you clearly didn’t.
Rehearsing in front of a mirror so you can catch yourself “smiling inappropriately” is a great way to make sure your body language and facial expressions are benefiting your message and not softening your case. I’m sure you have a fantastic smile, so don’t stop completely, a smile can show empathy and that can also work in your favour during conversation.
How you Respond
In a group scenario, those who intend to speak first make themselves look more worthy and demonstrate qualities of leadership, than those who choose to speak later or not at all. This motion does not link with the pressure of “liking the sound of your own voice” or having a pushy personality, yet, taking control of when you choose to use your voice can be a powerful move. Don’t disappoint yourself by allowing someone else the chance to say what you were thinking first.
I am a strong believer that we should be more afraid of not trying then of failing. So, my challenge to you is to make a decision. When the world starts moving again and you are asked to attend a networking session, how will you prepare your mindset? You have the potential, you just have to try.
Author: Alex Stimson