Networking and communicating while networking can be made easy by following this straightforward 3 step model.
Step 1: Pre-Interation – Why, What and Want?
Before interacting you will want to consider three easy questions Why? What? and Want?
- Why – Are you clear on why you are doing something? What are you developing that client? Why are you going to that specific event?
- What – What are your goals? For example if you are going to a particular event – who do you want to speak to? What outcome do you want?
- Want – What do you want? What does your client want? Think about it from both angles.
Prepare your self by asking these questions before an interaction. It will help you prepare and will help you explore whether a particular business development or networking opportunity is right for you.
Step 2: Interaction – Engage, Topic and Agree
Engaging can be any form of communication from body language (smiling and a positive presence) to introductions, conversations through to building rapport. Usually to engage you will be calling upon your soft skills to assist. You can also kick-off your engagement in advance of an interaction which can result in a more positive interaction (and a more confident you) as you are better prepared and are able to engage more actively because you know what you are there and have a sense of purpose.
In your engagements you should give some thought to the topics you might wish to use to make links. Topics can be great for finding common ground and open up interesting discussions around general open topics or if one-to-one interaction more targeted topics. Where possible you should always seek to add value and personalise the topic at hand.
Finally, before or at the end of the of the interaction you should agree what will happen next. You might give options or create firm plans about what will happen next. Examples include a follow up call or meeting, to go away and do X action, to speak to someone else and then get back to them. Whatever the agreed action is, it is about adding value and giving them what the want. During the course of the interaction they will hopefully volunteer this information themselves, if they don’t have your own back u. After all, if you don’t agree something all you are left with is a missed opportunity.
Step 3: Post-Interaction – Review, Replan and Record
Post-interation you will want to take some time to review what happened. This might take the form a mind-dump, an entry in your career journal or business development journal or a structured review using a networking follow-up printable.
Once you have reviewed you should take what you have learned and “replan” You might want to consider:
- What are you going to do next time?
- Is there something you missed? Keep missing?
- How can you learn from your mistakes?
- Write down the questions that worked for you.
As well as reviewing and replanning you may also want to record (and share) important information. Take a few notes as well as take some time to update your business development or CRM tracker/information with the interaction include what you learned, the follow-up action and any information regarding how you might possibly add value at some point the future.