I had the great fortune to meet the Positive Economist, Susan Hayes, for the first time today. Susan was at DigitalDNA to help Mary McKenna launch the Irish International Business Network in Northern Ireland Apart from the convincing anecdotes she shared on the power of networking, Susan had plenty of practical takeaways to help us all to get more out of events we attend.
Number 1. It’s all about the follow up
Don’t just make space in your diary to attend the event, make sure that you allow time to follow up! After each event, Susan takes the time to think about everyone she’s met, and how she can add value to them. When she follows up after the event, she shares content, makes an introduction or tries in some way to be helpful. That’s the best example of the #giversgain approach to networking that I’ve heard in a long time. Be generous within your network without the expectation of something in return. You’ll find that it comes full circle – positivity breeds positivity! For more on the compelling power of reciprocation, read Robert Cialdini’s classic ‘Influence’, a book on the psychology of persuasion that remains relevant today, even thirty years after it was first published.
Number 2. Take control
Time out of the office is precious. Make sure every event you attend delivers value. Why not ask a prospect or client to accompany you to the next event you’re attending? That way, you get to bask in the positive glow the event creates without the need to go to the trouble of arranging your own event. You get to share your network with your contact, making the event a win-win for you both. For more on this, watch Susan’s TEDxBelfast talk (about the 15 minute mark).
Number 3. Enjoy your network!
The last word on this blog goes to the indomitable Mary McKenna, who convened today’s panel in the first place. Mary doesn’t network to sell more stuff or to find people who benefit her, but to ‘collect interesting people’. It’s back to that #giversgain thing again. Find people you like, enjoy their company, help them out and watch how it all comes back to you.
What about you? Networking, love it or hate it? We hope that this advice from two champion networkers will help you make your networking more interesting and productive.