Networking – it’s THE buzzword for literally anyone in any business, in any industry, from any decade in time, and is the perceived stalwart of action for successful business-growth.

In fact, so necessary is networking in ensuring that you’re growing your business, I’m pretty sure that the Medieval equivalent was sending your son off to squire in a Duke’s household, and your daughter like a lamb to the slaughter as a lady-in-waiting for a raucous monarch – “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know” they all scream(ed) from Anne Boleyn to Sheryl Sandberg, so be sure to make friends in high places, ok?

Well RIP to all of the medieval teenagers who have since departed this world who, quite literally, were expected to marry (or, well ya know) their way into lucrative business deals for their more powerful family members – because that is really not the vibe we’re about in 2019. So, next time you’re nervously clutching a complimentary pinot noir whilst desperately trying to make eye contact with almost anyone, be very grateful that modern-day networking isn’t quite as intense these days. It can, however, still cause quite a lot of stress and anxiety, especially when you’re a bit, you know, socially awkward…

Well, today’s blog is all about helping those who have been thrust out on the frontline of the hardened battle-zone of networking and need a little nudge in the right direction to really get their network-game popping. As we know, networking can be a real trial for shy people, or even just most people, as it can sometimes feel insincere or even manipulative. So, if you’ve ever felt a bit apprehensive when stepping into a room full of people with a personal -economic agenda, who are just itching to stuff a business card into your sweaty palm, you can often fall into the trap of avoiding conversations that could actually be really valuable to you.

Thankfully, networking requires a special set of skills that almost any (relatively smart) person can learn, so we’ve put together some top tips that the team at Pistachio have found to be the most helpful when out and about on the network trail…

Apologies are a no-go:

Introverts and those lacking networking experience tend to apologise when engaging in conversation with new contacts because they believe that networking is an imposition rather than an exercise in relationship building.

Remember, you’re not asking anyone for a favour, your time is worth as much as anyone else’s and apologising makes you look like a novice. Be professional and be confident, there’s no need to be sorry for asking for help or wanting to understand more about the person you’re talking to, so don’t. The idea of networking is that one day you’ll be able to return any favour that you might be trying to solicit, so believe in yourself.

Grin, don’t bear it:

Makes sure you smile. Yes it’s simple, but it’s also very important to remember, especially if your brain is constantly reminding you how much you really hate networking. So please try and avoid walking around the event with a morbid grimace stuck on your face as, shockingly, this will not endear you to people, like at all.

On the other hand, please don’t walk around like a maniacal clown either, staring intensely into unsuspecting people’s faces with a crazed grin, as you may get swiftly black-balled by the cool kids – aka the people who know how to smile like a normal person. Instead, just try to be warm and inviting and give a broad smile when saying hello to people, rather than introducing yourself with a serious frown. Yes, it sounds very obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget and spend the whole event with RBF (google it).

Timing is everything:

No, I don’t mean when you finally ask out the love of your life, although I’m sure the same theory probably applies, but this isn’t the Valentine’s blog just yet. But timing IS key when being an effective networker.

For example, walking up to a group of people who are already engrossed in an animated conversation can be very intimidating, and does require some skill. Do not push your way in and just blurt out an opinion, as this will kill a conversation dead and leave you with a very frosty reception, and a terrible first impression. The easiest way to slide into a conversation, whilst making the best impression, is to smile, listen for a few moments to get the gist of the conversation, and then offer your contribution once everyone has warmed up to your presence. If you’re being extra cautious, then start with a question rather than sharing an opinion – unless the question is an obnoxiously rhetorical one, then probably just leave the room, and your job.

Listen, actually:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that people really do love to talk about themselves, but many don’t really listen when others are talking, they’re merely just waiting for their turn to talk. So, if you are a little on the shy side, the art of listening is your golden opportunity to be a truly great networker.

Listen with sincere intent and don’t dread your turn to talk when it comes, if people see that you have genuine interest in what they’re saying, they’ll remember that they had a great conversation with you, without you having to say very much at all!

Call me, maybe:

Always have your business card or details handy, it might seem a bit outdated in the digital age, but this is still the most effective way of making sure people remember who you are. Plus, if networking doesn’t really come naturally to you, leaving behind your details is a great way to avoid squandering any contacts that you did make.

You’re out on the circuit to take advantage of every opportunity, so make sure you let people know that it’s ok to reach out to you as it’s very likely that they will offer the same to you in return and then BOOM, connection made and the world is your (no doubt overpriced) oyster.

In conclusion, networking really doesn’t need to be that scary or annoying, it’s a great tool in growing your business and network of valuable contacts, so it’s important that you approach it in the most effective way possible.

If you’ve found any of these tips helpful, then please feel free to share with others, the more accomplished networkers we have out there better!

Maybe you’re wondering what you can do to impress your new contacts even more when they come looking for your business online? Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help with your online presence, we’d love to connect 😉