« 10. EI skills: Does your networking strategy work? »

By Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute; Author of "Business networking" (now out of print).

Despite all the social networking sites, face-to-face business networking is still important. 

How can you make a success of your networking opportunities and the associated networking conversations and interactions? How can your emotions influence your success?

Having recently been to some business networking functions, and with the possibility of a lot more to come, I'm talking today about how to make your business networking work.

I observed many people trying really hard to network but not quite doing as well as they might, so I will base my tips on what I observed and what I discussed with others.

Emotional intelligence also plays a role in making your networking work.

Emotional intelligence skills 1: Have a measurable goal

Develop a business networking plan. Have some measurable goals.

Why is it that you are networking?

What do you want to get out of your business networking?

Business networking is an essential mechanism for meeting key people, building business and stakeholder relationships, developing partnerships, gaining access to information and resources, finding staff, meeting suppliers, dialoguing with government, and much more.

What is the purpose for your networking?

Watch out for the emotions that may stop you from having goals. It is easy to feel apathetic - but that is just an emotion.

In contrast, feeling enthusiastic about goal setting; feeling determined to get the most out of your networking opportunities; or feeling enjoyment at the prospect of reaching higher levels of networking success can all help you in setting helpful goals.

Don't go without a clear goal or just for a good time; have a clearly defined reason.

Emotional intelligence skills 2: Identify the people to meet

Once you have your goals identify the specific people or types of people that will be most relevant to you and that will most help you reach your goals. 

Be precise - name them or their specific roles. 

Be excited about the potential prospect of meeting these people. Then work out how you are going to become known to the people that matter. 

Decide whom you need to meet and work out how to meet them.

Emotional intelligence skills 3: Choose your events carefully

Don't just go to any networking event and hope to meet relevant people. Don't just go to the networking events that fit in with your diary, that are closest to you, or that are the most popular ones. 

Choose the business networking events that best suit your goals.

Go to the events that the people you need to meet will also be attending.

This may require some research.

Also realise that the people you most need to meet may not even attend networking events and instead you may need to contact them in another way.

For example, you may be an academic who wants to meet with other researchers on your topic. You may find once you have chosen these people that they are best contacted by e-mall or phone, especially as they may be across the world. Networking is not only about going to networking events. Just going to the University Alumni events doesn't mean you will "bump" into the people you need to meet.

Only yesterday I got an e-mail from someone who wanted to meet me. This is part of what she wrote in her e-mail:

I first became aware of your work approximately 5-7 years ago when you did a presentation I attended. I was the president at the time. I went on to become CEO and saw you present at our conference. I am now consulting to local government and I hope to grow the business which will require more presentations and public speaking of me. I have seen your presentations grow over the years and was interested to hear how you got started, what professional development you would recommend etc. I am sure you are a busy lady and I don't want to take up too much of your time but if you would be kind enough to contact me sometime to discuss your thoughts I would appreciate that.

This is excellent networking. She had nothing to lose by contacting me, and I am clearly on her networking plan. I will contact her.

Emotional intelligence skills 4: Prepare

Prepare before you go. Don't leave everything to chance. 

  1. Decide what you want to get out of this particular event, what help you want, or what you want to learn.
  2. Find out who will be there.
  3. Learn something about them, read their LinkedIn profiles, Google + or Facebook pages, check out their web sites and think of something interesting to say to them.
  4. Prepare in advance for the conversations you'll have. Don't expect to be showered with great lines and topics to talk about when you walk into a room of strangers. Think of at least five topics to talk about. Glance through the paper, go over what you've been doing lately, think of what news you've heard and draw up a list of 5-10 topics to introduce into the conversation. 
  5. Pack LOTS of your business cards. Do not go business networking without them. Bringing TEN cards is NOT enough. If you know how many people will be there, e.g. 60, take 70. It doesn't matter if you go back to work with some, it does matter if you run out.
  6. Work out three interesting and open-ended questions you can ask.
  7. Decide how you will describe your work and what your organisation does.
  8. Wear clothes that have a left and a right pocket. In one pocket keep YOUR cards and in the other pocket keep OTHER people's cards. Always have an easy system for tracking your cards.

Emotional intelligence skills 5: Keep your promises

When you promise - you must do it - and as soon as possible. This is a great way to reinforce the relationship and paints you as a person who delivers and keeps his or her word.

This is especially important in business dealings where you may find that you need to ask something of one of your contacts.

And how does emotional intelligence fit in with all of this?

Your behaviour is driven by emotions, whether you are aware of them or not. Developing your emotional self-awareness and emotional self-management skills to a high level will give you greater opportunity to have the emotions that will best help you meet your networking goals.

Determination, confidence, inspiration, enthusiasm, interest, hope, are just a few of the emotions that may help you when networking. Do you know how to develop these emotions within yourself? It is all part of being emotionally intelligent.

Is your emotional intelligence at a high enough level?

Develop your business networking and emotional intelligence

There is so much more to learn about how to engage people, how to develop high levels of emotional intelligence, and how to be brilliant at business networking so you build your business. We have only scratched the surface here. Would you like yourself or your team to be even more skilled at business networking so they engage the people who matter? You can. With us

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us and we will discuss your options with you.