This week, I had the pleasure of joining the Property Council of Australia’s Future Directions group at their “Build Your Professional Brand” event. I was on a panel with Tim McCluskey, relationship manager at LinkedIn, where we covered some really interesting topics about how to best brand yourself and build your network.
I am a big advocate for networking. Meeting people you wouldn’t normally speak with gives you the ability to get a new perspective, fresh ideas on how to approach life, and add value to others. By building a strong network of people with similar professional interests, you’re building relationships for the future.
Below are some of the tips and tricks I have used in the past to build my network and relationships in the Property and Construction sector, along with common questions I get.
Network like you mean it
First of all, it is completely normal to feel nervous and uncomfortable when entering a room full of strangers. Everyone at some point in their career has felt this way.
Be sincere genuine and present. It is obvious when you are speaking to someone if they are engaged in what you are saying or not.
Ask open-ended questions. For example, what do you enjoy about your role vs do you like your role? People enjoy speaking about themselves. By letting people talk, you get the opportunity to listen and respond, building rapport and similar interests as the conversation flows.
Keep in touch. Relationships build over time. If you have enjoyed speaking with someone, work out the best way to keep in touch in the future. You may suggest swapping business card or mention that you will send a LinkedIn request. Make sure that when you do send the request, you add a personalised message, like good luck with your project.
What’s the best approach to expanding your networks, online and in person, without coming across as a business-card-collector? Be interested and engaged in the conversation. You may have at stack of business cards at the end of the night, but what do you actually know about the people whose details you have? One of the best ways to create a partnership with someone is to offer to help them and add value.
What happens if I walk into the room and I don’t know anyone?
First, I head to the bar (you don’t need to get an alcoholic drink while you’re there, either). It’s a good place to find others who are hanging out by themselves, and you can say hello without it being too full on.
Failing that, make eye contact with someone also standing by themselves, go over, and say hello — they will welcome the effort.
One thing that’s easy to do when you are alone at an event is to look at your phone and message your mates. I suggest you avoid this tactic. While it might help you feel less awkward, you are making yourself unapproachable and difficult for anyone to come and speak with you.
What happens if I see someone I want to avoid?
Simply smile, say hello, and keep moving. Making it obvious that you are avoiding someone is awkward for everyone mainly you. is you don’t know who that person is speaking and you are cutting yourself off from the wider next work at the event.
What happens if I forget someone’s name?
Hopefully they’re wearing a name badge! If not, ask a colleague or someone who does appear to know them. You can also simply own up to the slip and say, “I’m sorry, we’ve already met, but what is your name? I have a terrible memory for names.” What you don’t want to do is make the situation awkward by avoiding the elephant in the room.
Should you wish to discuss your best approach to networking or have any questions you would like to ask me, either pop a comment below or give me a call at 0478 049 447.