Networking. The buzzword that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most confident of people. It’s an annoying word used to explain an everyday thing - meeting new people. The only difference is that networking can often be about meeting people that could be helpful to you, or, just as importantly, that you could help in some way.
Adele is one of the biggest artists in the world, yet she admits to still getting stage fright when she performs live. Despite being a seasoned performer, the pressure can makes it seem scary. Networking can feel exactly the same, so here are some tips straight out of the Adele playbook on how to make the fear of networking seem like water under the bridge.
Hello, it’s me.
Saying ‘Hello’ is probably the hardest part of the encounter. It can be daunting to go up to someone, maybe a senior person in your company, or a business person that you want to build a relationship with. The best way of getting round this is being confident with what you are going to say when you introduce yourself. It can be simple as saying your name and your job title but make sure you have it planned in advance so that it comes out naturally, even practice doing it in the mirror – and remember to smile!
That’s the easy bit. The next step is to make sure you have a followup question or comment. Think of it before you go to say hi to kickstart the conversation, otherwise you might end up talking about the weather and they might want to put a distance between you. I’m sure Adele thought of something interesting to say when she picked up her OBE from Prince Charles.
Don’t You Remember (My Name)
Remembering people’s names is tough. It’s a skill that needs to be concentrated on and worked on. But it’s worthwhile, as it avoids cringe-worthy situations where someone you know comes over but you are unable to introduce them to the person you are speaking to because you didn’t listen to their name in the first place.
When someone new introduces themselves, really concentrate on their name, say it back to them and then repeat it to yourself in your head three times. Make sure when you part ways you ask for a business card as this will help to jog your memory at a future date, plus it could come in handy.
Rumour Has It
If you are aiming to speak to somebody specific for a particular reason, like a senior person in a department that you would like to work in, then check out the rumour mill. In other words, do your research. Speak to people they work with and find out about what projects they’re working on. Find out whether they’d prefer a direct approach like “I’m really interested in coming to work in your team” or if a gentler conversation is required first. By doing good research on the person you are better able to influence them to help you with your overall goal, whatever that may be.
I Can’t Make You Love Me
Trying to make someone like you is never a good idea. Pretending to be something you are not or act in a different way to the way you usually do generally winds up in disaster because the mask will inevitably eventually slip. In other words just be yourself and you can’t go far wrong. Sometimes it’s good to put forward the best version of ourselves rather than the one that spins down Compton Street on a Saturday night but it’s easy to tell if someone isn’t being real, so make sure that you are. One of the main reasons that people love Adele is that she comes across as completely genuine… so don’t underestimate this quality.
Trying out these things to help you become a more confident networker. Practice makes perfect, so don’t give up and you won’t have to keep on chasing pavements.
Sanjay Sood-Smith is a food entrepreneur and former candidate on The Apprentice. You can find out more about his business Tuk In, which makes curry-in-a-naan, at tukinfoods.com.
Follow him on Twitter at @sanjaysoodsmith, and for more in the 'Men at Work' series, click here.
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