Change Management

Tips for Better Networking

Preparing, being a good listener and staying up to date with company structures and changes are just some of the best ways to build professional relationships.  When you are dealing with changes in your organisation, building good relationships is key to success.

In a world full of social media pressures, the number of friends you have seems to be more important than the quality of those relationships and what those friends mean to you.  When it comes to managing change, the quality of relationships makes the difference not the number.  As a Change Manager you get to know many people, some more than others; it is not the number that is important but the spread of those who will be impacted by the change that you are managing and the professional relationship you build with each and every one which will be different in every case.

This is about networking, about connections, about relationships, about stakeholder management.

Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and many people often try to avoid it at times, but on a professional level it’s very important. You can end up meeting great contacts that could be useful to you in your career, to help you in your work and to build teams, and some who become lifelong friends.

Here are some tips on better networking.

Prepare

Always prepare before you go into a meeting or any business discussion to avoid awkward silences when in conversation with someone. This will also help you feel more relaxed. If you find yourself in one of these situations, simply ask one of the questions you prepared beforehand.

Be A Good Listener

It’s important to be engaging when talking to others. Listen to the other person’s needs and concerns and (if you can) offer solutions to these. If someone gives you detail about their family or an interest, take note of it. These small pieces of information come in handy if you ever meet again.

Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship.

A good networker has two ears and one mouth — and should use them in those same proportions. When you’re engaged in conversation, listen to the other person’s needs and concerns so you can find opportunities to help him or her. In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots. Listening will enable you to help people make the connections they seek.

Stay Positive

Your attitude and the way you handle yourself always needs to be positive. Smiling and giving off a warm aura will make people want to approach and talk to you when networking.

Your attitude, or how you deal with things in general, is the first thing people see about you. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals. By contrast, a positive attitude makes people want to cooperate and associate with you. This is why positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends and family to them, too.

Make The Most Of Social Media

Social media is a great way to network at home and at work. Having a LinkedIn profile is especially important for networking as it can be used to connect with professional people all over the world. Always make sure you keep your profile up to date and take time to connect online with relevant people.  Remember it is not the number of contacts that matter, it is the quality of those contacts and how you can work with each other effectively and efficiently.

Have Quality Conversations

Quality in content and in discussions is also more important than quantity when networking. Networking isn’t about frantically running around trying to get as many contacts as possible and having as many meetings as possible.  It’s about building a good working relationship with someone, getting a solid footing through effective communication and perseverance where both parties benefit from that relationship.

Don’t Push Your Own Agenda

We all want to succeed in this world, but sometimes if you push your own agenda too much, it can seem like a one-way conversation. This can put networkers off having a professional relationship with you. Always make sure you treat other networkers with respect and have a genuine curiosity about who they are and what they want.

Stay Up To Date With Key Events

It’s important to keep on top of the networking events and organisational changes in your organisation. Regularly do your research into what’s going on and always take up the chance to do some networking.

Get Over Shyness

Always introduce yourself with a confident handshake and always make strong eye contact with other individuals. If you’re not sure how to introduce yourself, just keep it simple. A “Hey, how are you, my name’s…” always works.

Have A Great Business Card

Business cards can really help when networking. It’s important to have one that’s memorable to the person receiving it, although make sure it’s memorable for all the right reasons. You don’t need to go overboard with the design, but make sure you put some time into thinking about the style and the colours used. It needs to fully represent your company and the logo of your company needs to be clearly visible.

Follow Up Conversations

It’s always important to follow up with people you have spent time networking with and this doesn’t just mean sending an email through. If you see on social media it is their birthday, wish them well. And if you see something that could match their interests, tag them in the post. The more you keep in touch with them, the better it will be next time you see them or hear from them.

If you offer opportunities to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person. It doesn’t matter if your call to action is a simple piece of information, a special contact or a qualified business referral.

Collaborate To Serve Others

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Helping people puts that care into action so others can see it at work. People want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude.  You can help others in a variety of ways, from e-mailing a relevant article to putting them in touch with someone who has the knowledge or access to assist them with a specific challenge.

A willingness to collaborate is essential to building trust and establishing strong relationships.

Be Sincere And Authentic

You can offer the help, the thanks and the listening ear, but if you aren’t sincerely interested in another person, she or he will know it! People who’ve developed successful networking skills convey sincerity at every turn. We’ve all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity. Faking it isn’t sustainable.

Prove Your Trustworthiness

It doesn’t matter how successful the person is, if you don’t trust them, you won’t work with them well. When you give a reference, you’re putting your reputation on the line. You must be able to trust your networker and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact to someone who can’t be trusted.

Be Approachable

We may forget what someone said and what they did, you will never forget how they made you feel. Effective networking starts with approachability — and while this characteristic appears last on the list, everything flows from this manner of thought and action.

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Each tip in this article ties into the notion of “farming,” not “hunting.” It’s about building mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed in creating a powerful, personal network which will help you succeed in managing change and those impacted.

If you want to know more about networking in change management and training, it is covered in the following change management and training courses:

Change Management – Introduction

Change Management – Advanced

Effective Communication

Planning a Super User Network

Training Skills for Better Performance

Presentation Skills

Icebreakers and Games

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