Networking for Success, Practical Tips from Callum Laing
“Networking is Fun!” Callum Laing from MobyElite International exclaimed, as he assessed the audience intently, in a talk I attended last Friday.
“I remembered my very first networking event,” he continued. “I read every single book on networking out there and I felt ready and confident. But when I got there, everybody was talking to each other like they were old friends and I felt totally out of place. I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible!”
As Callum started building rapport with the audience, he introduced the four levels of networking.
We all start at this level. Some of us are naturally shy and it’s hard to step out of our comfort zone. If you are currently at this level, Callum’s advice is to turn fear into courage:
- Understand what’s the worst that can happen – If you fail to connect with someone, what’s the worst that can happen? Excuse yourself, move on and approach another person. Treat failure as feedback to improve your next interaction.
- Focus on the benefits – What will a bigger network mean? More opportunities, fun, career prospects, mentors, interesting stories, potential dates and money! Hands up those who still can’t see the benefits!
- Make a decision, take action and get involved – “To know and not to do is not yet to know.” Take action! Start talking. You can’t learn networking without practicing. Get out there and do it!
The second level of networking is competence. Here, we are comfortable speaking with people and making small talk, but we are still not really there yet.
The focus for those at this level is simply to improve conversation skills.
- Open naturally
- Situation Relevance – The safest openings are those related to the venue, the group and/or the event.
- Opinion Openers – Open with an attention grabbing opinion/question. “What do you think of… I feel that…”
- Prepare 3 themes for the evening
- Global news item
- Local news item
- Industry news/event
- Have 2 to 3 stories to tell
- Help people have fun
At this level, we add value to everyone we meet. We do this through:
- Information (Become the Expert)
- Always be introducing – Remember what people are good at and also what they need. Help bring people of similar interests together.
- Buyers and Sellers
- Identify/Create Safe Environments to meet
Here, you are ready to profit from your network.
- Define your network – Own the rights to communicate to your network and understand who would value that.
- Profit – through entrance fees, membership fees, sponsorships
- Leverage on Product Sales – Books, Videos, Tickets and Merchandise
Now no matter which level we are at, I think the point that Callum wanted to drive across is simple: Our network can offer us tremendous amount of value and leverage. It’s time to hone those networking skills to bring ourselves to the next level!
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