Networking Advice from Google:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Dare I say, “mission accomplished!”? These 7 networking tips derive from the Google Academy for Ads, Digital Sales Certification’s Networking Course. This certification was integrated into the other exams, and is no longer available on its own.
Here, we will show you how top Google Sales Reps make the most out of networking events and how you can benefit from these tactics. Get ready to navigate your next networking event like a true professional with these 7 networking tips from the experts at Google.
What is Networking?
Merriam Webster defines networking as, “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.”
Networking events are all about meeting people and acquiring new contacts. Networking events can be essential for career development, but for many, these events can also be quite stressful. Learn how to plan effectively so you can get the most out of your networking opportunities.
1. Plan Ahead
Like most activities, success in networking is about preparation. If you don’t prepare for the event ahead of time, many of your conversations will probably start the same way, and trail off before you really connect with the person.
It’s important to know what your goal is for attending the event. Knowing ahead of time what you’re hoping to accomplish will help you stay focused and not wander around aimlessly. So, ask yourself, “Why am I here?” or “What am I hoping to get out of this event?” and plan accordingly.
2. Do Your Research
Part of planning ahead includes researching the other attendees prior to the event. Most networking events provide you with an attendee list that typically includes name, email, and a tiny blurb of information. A common mistake in networking is relying too much on the information you get at the event itself. If you can get a list of attendees in advance, spend some time reading their Linkedin profiles and checking their company websites. The objective isn’t to meet as many people as possible at the event; focus on making just a few solid connections. Aim to meet a few people and begin a meaningful dialogue based on your research. Don’t stalk them. All you need is enough information to guide the first sentences of your conversation.
3. Prepare Questions in Advance
To help get the conversation started, try asking simple questions that help you establish common ground with the person you’re having a conversation with. Have a couple personal questions ready, like “Are you from this area?” and “Do you travel often?” You can also check out these simple ways to break the ice at networking events.
In addition to asking common ground questions and conversation starters, you should also prepare a few questions that you can use to help further the goals you’ve set. For example, if your goal is to acquire leads for a new job opportunity you may ask something like, “How did you get involved in [X} industry?” or “Why do you enjoy working at [X] company?” Both questions are open ended and will help further the conversation rather than allowing someone to respond with simple yes or no answer.
4. Don’t go Hungry
When attending a networking event, you’ll want to make sure that you maximize your time. However, everyone needs to eat! In the interest of utilizing your time wisely, you should do one of two things when it comes to fitting in a meal at a networking event.
- Eat a hearty meal before or after the event.
- Schedule a “lunch date” and encourage sharing a meal with a contact made at the networking event.
Either option works as a valid method to maximize your networking event time and ensure that you don’t go hungry.
5. Don’t Linger with Existing Connections
Networking can help you acquire more professional and social contacts, build your business, and create viable referrals. While it is always nice to visit with people you already know at a networking event, it is not making the best use of your time. Make the effort to speak to the people you know, but do not linger with existing contacts. Spending too much time with an existing contact can take away from an opportunity to meet a new connection.
6. Schedule Time to Follow-Up
Before ending a conversation with new contacts at the networking event, be sure to schedule a time to follow-up. On the agreed upon date, send follow-up emails and/or Linkedin requests to anyone you met that you’d like to continue networking with. Make sure to avoid sending generic messages to your contacts. Consider personalizing each email or Linkedin request, letting each person know you enjoyed meeting them and mentioning a specific topic that you talked about with them.
7. Advance the Connection
During your follow-up communication is the time to begin advancing the connection you have made. You can try any of the following methods to ensure that you do not let your new connection fizzle out.
- Schedule a coffee date.
- Connect on social media.
- Reach out for meaningful dates such as birthdays and work anniversaries.
- Invest in getting to know your contact better as a person.
This post was originally published on the MAU blog right here.