My number one tip for networking is that practice is key. To be honest, in my first year of university, I thought I was pretty good at networking. However, as I attended more networking events, I realised there were many gaps in my knowledge. Here are my recommendations when it comes to effective networking:
1. Be aware of your body language
a. How are you standing?
For instance, something as simple as your stance can have such a major impact. If, for example, you are speaking to a representative or peer with your feet pointed towards them and body facing them directly, this gives the impression that you are having a private conversation and do not welcome others to join in.
b. Welcome others into the group
However, if you are in a situation where you would like others to join the ‘circle,’ do the opposite. For instance, when you meet like-minded people or want to hear the questions others ask representatives. This is when you have your feet pointing more outward and shoulders diagonal, conveying a more open and inclusive message.
c. Be aware of your actions
Similarly, folded arms can show that you are uninterested and unwilling to have a conversation. In contrast, if you smile and make eye contact with whom you are speaking to, this demonstrates you are both engaged and interested.
2. Be prepared with conversation points
Networking is about building relationships and a great way of doing so is speaking about topics that interest you. While talking about the weather is a safe topic that everyone can contribute to, it is a little overdone. Others topics like current affairs, holiday plans and reflecting on the event attended are great discussion points as they can be easily adapted to the situation and environment you are in. For instance, if someone is at a workshop related to Taxation, and the Federal Budget was just released for the year, consider mentioning a part of the budget related to what was spoken about in the workshop.
Some go to questions are:
What did you think of the speaker/presentation/workshop?
I read an interesting article about ___, what do you think of it?
Do you have any plans for the summer/winter break?
To sum up, be aware of your body language and whether it is sending your desired message. Speak about topics that genuinely interest you to spark conversation and adapt discussion to the situation.
All the best!
If you want to put these tips and skills into action, come along to Capital W’s Annual Dinner https://www.facebook.com/events/1915989965093113/