By Emma Wyatt
It’s all too easy to sit at your desk, in pixel land, with an avatar waiting for the world to come to you. Whether you work from home and spend a little too long awkwardly chatting to the postman (that’s me), or work in an office nicely positioned next to the window (miles from the coffee machine)… this blog is for you!
Here are my top 10 networking tips to get sociable and grow an active professional community.
1. Get proactive
First, you need to create the opportunity to connect with people. Utilize social media platforms, attend events and join existing networks. Good places to start are your local chamber of commerce, entrepreneurial networks or simply socializing with those who share similar interests. In the online world, friend people, follow people and join in the comment conversations.
2. Keep it real
Trust is paramount to any authentic relationship. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not! Show humility and be accessible. Making yourself unobtainable will switch people off.
3. Achieve common interest
Find a way to relate. Are you a working mum? Do you play golf? What did you think of the Rodrigo y Gabriella gig? Broadening your appeal will increase your reach and ultimately your network. But remember keep it real and be relevant to yourself.
4. Pay attention to your appearance
How you look, whether online or in person, affects how you are perceived by others. What are you saying about yourself with your outfits, your avatar photos or your website design? A first encounter will often cement any further attention whether positive or negative! Think clean, professional and memorable. Without being overly sexy, stuffy or wacky.
5. Be likeable
Not everyone is born with natural charm and charisma, but most of us have our manners and understand social etiquette. Don’t rant and rave, don’t over-dominate a group, be polite and treat people the way you would expect to be treated. Negativity gets attention, but doesn’t win many friends.
6. Use humor wisely
Some people are naturally witty and can make people laugh – others, not so much. If you have to think about being funny, the chances are you will come across as tragically un-funny. Make sure people are laughing with you and not at you. Think about whom you could offend.
7. Follow the rule of reciprocity
When someone has shown you their interest, give them some attention back. Relationships are two-sided; exchange mutually beneficial information and keep the relationship even-handed.
8. Manage your following
Take ownership of your community: figure out what it is that you want people to do. Only then can you lead your group and get people to actively engage in your cause. Cultivate your network to benefit you professionally – tell them your ideas, tell them your story, and get them on board.
9. Use your platform to help others
As your community starts to grow, remember it’s not all about you. Use your network to give others a voice too.
10. Maintain continuity
Be consistent. Nurture your connections and create a sustainable pace for your interactions. Set realistic goals and stick to them.