Working within the digital marketing industry, I find myself constantly learning and trying to keep up to date with an industry that is ever changing and growing!
Having been to some brilliant marketing events already this year like ProlificNorthLive and learning from some leading North West digital agencies over a complementary cupcake (or 3), it stood out to me just how important networking is for keeping up-to-date with industry trends etc. The ProlificNorthLive event was a brilliant opportunity to wander round the different stands and learn from businesses showcasing their work and hear their insights first-hand.
So I thought I’d write about what I think makes great networking. This is by no means the answer, but is my personal opinion on the dos and don’ts.
Networking… we all know what it is. Most people attend networking events to gain something: referrals, exposure, connections, and opportunities. Yet many start with this intention and leave an event with disappointment. Networking, when done with the right intentions can be inspiring! It’s about learning from others and in its simplest form it’s about people enjoying other people. It’s about building genuine relationships, standing in a room chatting to people, listening to others’ passions and then figuring out how you think you can help.
Recruiters often get a bad reputation for being pushy and only out for themselves - and these type of people you can spot a mile off! Yet when you go to an event with the intention of learning something, whether it be insights or future predictions, you can build relationships and forge real connections.
Here’s some simple ways I think networking can be successful:
1. Have a plan
Make sure you have a succinct way of introducing yourself and what you do. Have an idea of what you want to talk about, who you think would be beneficial to have a chat with, who you’d be interested in learning from (planning always helps!)
2. Have a laugh
To me it’s really about enjoying yourself… dare I say it having a bit of ‘banter’ and getting to know people more, which is always easier when you feel relaxed and are enjoying yourself. Let’s face it, if you’re having a good time chances are conversation flows much easier.
3. Forget your agenda
Make it your goal to be open and friendly and the rest will follow. Don’t fire a million and one questions at someone with the aim of getting more information from them. It’s about mingling and building rapport and that’s only done through being conversational. (At an evening event the drinks are always flowing and so open conversation tends to happen naturally, which makes life easier all round!)
4. Join up the dots
Listen to people, don’t wade in with a rehearsed pitch. Think about genuinely gaining knowledge and insight, that way you can work out what you can bring to the table and exactly how you can help.
5. Follow it up
It sounds simple...but keep in touch. If you commit to follow up the conversation then do it!! It’s so easy nowadays, whether it be digitally via social media, booking in a follow up meeting, or sending a quick text/email make sure you keep in touch. You’ll be surprised with how many people promise to and don’t!
So I guess next time you go to a networking event think about what you want to learn and in turn how you can help others. That way you will see the real way that collaborating and supporting one another can lead to building great long term connections.
Becky Smith is one of our Digital Agency Consultants in our Agency team, she recruits across all areas of the Agency sector so if you are looking for a new challenge then give her a call on 0161 641 8954.