There is one thing we all have to do – and I suspect on certain days, we all hate it – and that’s networking.
At FaithAction, we frequently go to events, meet members, and go to conferences, and there is often the time to ‘network’ over coffee or lunch. It’s the time where you notice people taking more interest in their phones then ever before, or the time where people just disappear. However, networking is often the time where you can find partners to work with, build your own knowledge, or simply gain more awareness of what’s going on out there.
Here are my three tips for networking:
1. Be ready
Make sure you have a business card and a pen. In today’s world, there really isn’t an excuse not to have a card, with many places doing them for free. It’s a great way to hand over your details, and also, a tool to make notes on after a conversation.
2. Do your homework
Before you get to an event, think about the type of people that might be there and what would be a good ‘networking outcome’ for you and your organisation. Then, when at the event, attendance lists are a must. Have a skim through, see who’s there, and make a mark against their name if you want to meet them.
3. Follow up
Whether you think someone will be useful to you or not, it’s a must to follow up. Even if you only send an e-mail that says, ‘It was nice meeting you. If something comes up, I’ll be in touch.’, it’s good to let someone know that you have their card, that it was good chatting to them and, whilst you can’t work together right now, their time was helpful.
However, don’t despair if you come out of an event and you haven’t met who you wanted to. Just pick yourself up, and remember that, because you work in the voluntary sector, there will always be another opportunity to network.