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Towards the end of the year one of my good friends Mayur Gupta, a fellow Enactus UK Alumnus, asked me to go along with him to a networking event for sixth form students at Ark Global Academy.It was my first experience in a while at a pure networking event and it brought back to me many of the lessons that I have been fortunate to either be taught or have observed in people I really admire. I thought I would share a couple of my key takeaways:
1) Always respect the person you are talking to – it’s amazing how often in that initial conversation you can misjudge someone and blow them off – everyone has some unique value to add and if you don’t find it that’s your issue, not theirs.
2) Whilst you can learn techniques to “work rooms faster” and “harvest contacts” they are only applicable if you actually strike off enough of a relationship to actually contact the person!
3) Always seek to help or provide people you meet a win – whenever you meet someone new the quicker you can offer someone something they really need the quicker trust begins to build – also if everyone gave a little more wouldn’t it be a better more connected world.
4) Follow up – so simple – if you promise something, follow it through. Sometimes it’s actually really hard to remember everything you have promised but that quick message or LinkedIn connection could become something really valuable.
5) Be genuine – it’s easy sometimes to try and take on little techniques to try and make someone like you. There are some great tools in NLP but if you aren’t genuine in the conversation how can you build a lasting and real relationship.
6) Detail can go a huge way to making you stand out from the crowd! It doesn’t matter what method you use to collect information (my personal preference is LinkedIn notes next to the contact name or notes on my phone which I email to myself) just make sure you do collect it.
A short personal example below:
“I met Tripp at an Enactus Networking event in my first year of university. He was working at Enterprise Rent a Car at the time and, whilst it was too early for me to know where I wanted to work, I really got on with him so we kept in touch via social media (Twitter & LinkedIn). Over the next two years we bumped into each other a number of times at events including Undergraduate of the Year 2011, Loughborough university careers events and other Enactus events. Through this relationship over the years I was involved in supporting Enterprise Rent a Car in getting access to a number of candidates interested in them from our university. In return they supported me through the charitable arm of Enterprise Rent a car to take a small group of people on a research trip to Finland as well as kindly offering me a job when my personal circumstances meant I no longer wanted to leave the country for my placement year. When Tripp moved on from Enterprise Rent a Car we kept in touch and I got involved in supporting Aston University Enactus team, where Tripp was university adviser at the time. I feel very fortunate to have someone with his experience that I can reach out to.”
If you are a part of Enactus I would really encourage you to come along to our professional development events and socials. The next one is coming up soon, you can sign up for more information here or if you want to find out more feel free to drop me a message – students, alumni or advisers (I have worn all the hats at some point!) This is World Cup year after all!
Even if you are not part of Enactus, please feel free to comment below or drop me a message and share your thoughts / experiences on networking, I am always interested to hear more stories/learning on the topic!