Top 5 tips for sucessful networking

Margot Grantham

Margot Grantham

Margot Grantham is a serial networker and businesswoman responsible for The Athena Network in Scotland and a director of WDGresearch in England.

“Every woman I meet through Athena has her own inspirational story, and I love the fact that I am able to bring women together from different backgrounds and businesses and observe them motivating and supporting each other.”

Since 2007 Margot has introduced five businesswomen’s groups around the Edinburgh area and she commutes between Scotland and her home in Buckinghamshire every other week.

We are delighted to welcome Margot as a feature writer at the3rdi magazine.

Networking, like Marmite, you either love or you hate. And just like Marmite, a little of it can spread quite far, but you really have to be a patient and persistent lover.

As a director of The Athena Network I help my members make the most of their networking opportunities. The fact that we are an all female business network makes my role fairly straightforward, after all we are predominantly predisposed to networking as an inherent survival skill which has been adapted over thousands of years.

To optimise what we as women already have an inherent ability to do and adapt it to work in the world of business there are a few key skills to learn. Our cave dwelling ancestors had evolved communication skills but no internet, so for those of us who use social media sites to broadcast our message the business networking skills required are arguably much the same as face to face.

People buy people in networking and to be a strong contender in business today you have to be the Marketing Director of brand ME! How do you develop a powerful personal brand? Well, it is all about shaping people’s perceptions about you.

Think Alexander the Great; he would have been just another forgotten Greek warlord had he not surrounded himself with scribes and followers who would broadcast his successes. More recently Simon Cowell would be just another A & R executive, Madonna another female singer from the eighties who we can barely remember. They are the architects of their own unique Personal Brands.

The ultimate personal brand is that of Barack Obama. During his presidential campaign he built his brand around three things: his idea of change, a strong visual identity, and phenomenal verbal skills.

So how do you build your personal brand? Don’t think of yourself as an employee but as an asset that you own! What are your main accomplishments? What is it that you do that brings most value to your company? What have you done recently that you are most proud of? What is it that your customers say is the best part of working with you? Write it down and inwardly digest it! Being honest about yourself promotes an honest and consistent brand.

Showcase your talents by writing articles for magazines, produce a newsletter, blog, and broadcast it in your 60 second pitch at networking meetings. And don’t forget that the relationships that you develop in networking have the potential to deliver a powerful message about your brand.

BE PASSIONATE
Forget the rule of the 4 ‘P’s in Marketing (product, place, promotion and price), PASSION is the 5th P and without it we risk inertia or achieving no more than the status quo.

Passion is what motivates people to climb mountains, excel at sport, achieve beyond expectations. Passionate people stand out and we are drawn to their story. They make great employers and even greater employees as they infect the business with their enthusiasm and commitment to their job.

All life’s great entrepreneurs have exhibited passion for their business – take Howard Schultz. He was infused with the passion exhibited by the Italian waiters making coffee at a pavement cafe in Milan, and turned his Seattle coffee bean store into the first Starbucks. It was his passion and conviction that persuaded investors to help him grow his chain.

Alan Sugar frequently tells his would-be apprentices that they need passion to succeed. Dragons Den dragons talk about the importance of passion in a sales pitch. If you have passion you will be remembered for how great you are. It is the change agent.

So develop your personal brands and be passionate about what you do. Arrange one-to-ones with the contacts that you meet at these events even if their business is not in the same universe as yours. Even virtual one-to-ones are possible and an important part of using social media for business. Find out more about each other – you may be surprised what you turn up! And don’t forget to ask them what type of business they are looking for as you may have the perfect contact.

Enjoy the experience of networking and be conscious that your personal brand is an ascending star whose rise can be accelerated by a full tank of passion!

1. Remember that you are Marketing Director of Brand Me – what you do and say when networking reflects on the product or service you represent

2. Be consistent and present an honest brand. You have a responsibility to live up to the expectations that you have generated about yourself amongst your network. You will have a greater chance of securing the golden chalice of networking – a high quality/value referral.

3. Develop a ‘handshake’. This is the short and snappy memorable line that you might use to introduce yourself at a networking event, or the description that sits beside your social media profile. E.g. Jo Smith, Chartered Accountant is replaced with Jo Smith, Professional Bounty Hunter – guaranteed to prompt a conversation!

4. If you have to present a 60 second pitch, don’t waste it on a potted history of your experience. Cut to the chase and define what business/support you are looking for.

5. Don’t let a useful contact escape without getting a date in your diaries for a follow-up meeting. Half an hour spent over coffee getting to know each other better can divulge the most valuable information for your business.

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