Ask the Expert: How To Network Like a Pro

Starting a business, especially when you have no background or knowledge on how to do it, is daunting. Networking can make it a bit easier. But when we hear the word “networking”, we all seem to hide in the corner and take out our phones as a safety blanket.

Melissa Curley of SocialBee knows exactly how this feels. After being abroad, coming home to Ireland to set up a business was the plan. However, she had absolutely no support network. “This was the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome in my business to date, and the thing I have worked the hardest on to rectify.” Melissa joined us here at GirlCrew HQ to give us the low down on how to network. Check out the video here, or watch it below.

 

3 Tips on How to Network Like a Pro

1. Confidence

One of the scariest things to do in life, is to walk into a room and talk to strangers. Going up to someone new and introducing yourself can put off the most confident extrovert. But when you accomplish this, it feels amazing. Remember – lots of people in there feel equally uncomfortable, because networking is a little unnatural. If we changed the name to ‘’focused chatting’’ people might be less freaked out at the prospect of it. Don’t sweat the hellos. Honestly, a smile and a hello how are you go a long way. We don’t have to be our most smartest, wittiest, amazing selves in the first 30 seconds.

2. Be a good listener

Listening is a valuable skill when it comes to networking. Even remembering someone’s name and repeating it back to them, makes them feel valued. And this can make people more comfortable and likely to keep chatting. Listening also leads to follow up questions and you can then slyly enter into the conversation what you do and how you can help them in their business. Listening can be a hard skill to learn, especially in a loud room, so make sure to keep eye contact. If you are constantly looking around or on your phone, the person you are chatting to will think you aren’t interested.

3. Be interested

Yes networking is all about getting yourself out there and making contacts to benefit your business. But it’s also about meeting new and interesting people. Other people are fun, and full of surprises. You might get chatting to John from accounting who works at a giant corporation but who is also a baker and sells cupcakes online. That’s not necessarily beneficial to your company but you’ve made a new contact who might be beneficial to you in the future or they might know someone who can help you now. Go into networking events with an open mind and always remember to be yourself.

Networking is about making connections. It’s about finding people who share similar values to you, and building relationships with them that will be mutually beneficial over time. Because networking is about building relationships, it is a long game rather than a short bout. People take time to get to know you, and anyone that’s in a hurry to get results from networking will crash and burn. Networking is about seeking to add value before you extract it. Having a ‘what can I do for you’ rather than a ‘what can you do for me’ mentality.

Now you know how to network like a pro but where do you start? The careers and entrepreneurs group on the GirlCrew app is a great way to meet people in a similar position. Women who are only setting up their business or have been in business a long time and know how to help. Make sure you check out Social Bee too, you can create your own networking event and get started networking like a pro!

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Ellie Smyth

Community Manager at GirlCrew
Community Manager for GirlCrew Dublin, YouTuber and podcast addict. Follow my Tweets on @xLadySmythx

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