Thursday, August 4, 2016

Shine your Personal Brand through Socialising

My network is my net worth. I’m not sure where this saying originated from however I do believe there is truth to it. The connections we make and the community we have around us is often where work, referrals and collaboration come from which in turn may create income. Networking whether in person or online is all social networking. I watched an old movie recently where at a party the matron was encouraging the younger girl to “circulate”. It could be called mingling or working the room but it shouldn’t be thought of as work. Socialising is meant to be fun and a way to make friends.

I enjoy networking – and socialising, yet I know many who don’t and I must say it does take practice. However, getting out and about and getting to know people who may become good acquaintances and even friends is definitely a worthwhile exercise.

Networking events I have attended recently include Australian Institute of Company Directors

and Women in Tourism Gold Coast.Through these events I made a number of LinkedIn contacts, chatted to some really interesting people and absorbed information and learning from the speakers. We learn so much about other people and develop more meaningful relationships when we meet face to face. With the ease of technology today we do rely so much on email however, there’s no real substitute for being in front of somebody.

There are many ways of networking. It can be lunch, dinner or even a coffee. There’s no golden rule to networking. It’s really about getting together and potentially doing business in a way that makes both you and your contact or client comfortable. 

Here are a few tips to practice while at a networking event:

  • Networking is about making contacts. You won’t make effective contacts if you spend your time flitting around the room from person to person or spending all your time with people you know. You are better off meeting three people and having a good quality conversation than trying to get around to thirty people. Five to seven minutes is a good amount of time to spend with anyone.

  • A good idea is to set an objective before you head off to an event. Perhaps it is just to meet and exchange business cards with three people, maybe meet the guest speaker who you’ve admired for a while or perhaps talk to that elusive business contact you’ve been playing phone tag with.

  • Don’t make a sales pitch at a networking function. You’re there to just connect and build trust. It can be off putting to other people if you come across as too pushy or needy – after all you are there to build good relationships.

  • Wait until the end of the conversation, when you've had a chance to connect or established a reason to make further contact, before you exchange business cards.

  • Listen twice as much as talk. People love to talk about themselves, and they appreciate others who give them that opportunity. Most people will think you’re a brilliant conversationalist if you let them do most of the talking.

  • Take the focus off yourself at networking functions. Act like a host and make other people feel comfortable.

  • Walk into a networking event confidently. Pause for a moment, look about and see if there is a group of people that you can approach and/ or someone you know to start off. Don’t just head directly to the bar or food and park yourself there. You're not there for the food.

  • Observe where the circle of influence is and mingle in that area.

  • Place your name tag on the right shoulder. As you shake hands, the eye automatically goes there.

  • When it is time to move on remember to close a conversation and where appropriate, indicate that you intend to make contact again within a few days. e.g. I’d like to discuss that further – give you a call, will send LinkedIn invitation.

  • Social interaction, small talk and networking can be confusing but they are also skills that can be acquired. Learn more about networking and Business Shine  and our Corporate Workshops 

In my free eBook the Power of Personal Public Relations I write more about uncovering your brand. 

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Read last week’s blog The ABC of Your Personal Brand Audit

Sue Currie is a personal branding specialist providing solutions to business owners and organisations to boost their image, renown, brand and business. She is the founder of Shine Academy™, providing education and professional development training and Shine Agency™ a firm providing personal branding and public relations services to help businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an impactful professional brand. Through speaking, corporate workshops, and consulting, Sue helps businesses and individuals to stand out and shine.

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