Webinar report: Connecting with purpose - making networking fun and worthwhile
‘Be in the mindset of giving before getting anything out’
We were delighted to be able to link our friends at the Quorum Initiative with RPC's Female Insurance Group (FIG) recently.
For many, networking is at best slightly awkward, at worst overwhelming.
When we see people effortlessly working a room – actual or virtual - at industry events, it’s easy to convince ourselves that they’re naturals. It’s not always the case. Often, these seemingly seasoned networkers are simply deploying a set of proven techniques.
So what are these techniques?
To find out, we asked Meg Sullivan, founder of The Quorum Initiative to join our Female Insurance Group (FIG) webinar, Connecting with purpose - making networking fun and worthwhile.
The Quorum Initiative is an international organisation that supports the advancement of women in business. Chapters in New York, Washington, D.C. and London connect executive women across borders to share ideas and drive change.
In 2019, Meg won the Financial Times’ Innovative Lawyers inaugural Intrapreneur Award for her work at law firm, Paul Hastings, which helped the business innovate and evolve.
Before joining Paul Hastings, Meg spent 10 years in Europe. During that time, she held senior roles in sectors as diverse as business consulting, clothing and shoe manufacturing and venture capital.
Meg is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s First-Mover Intrapreneur Fellowship program, serves on the steering committee for The Aspen Institute Socrates Program and is an advisory council member for the Child HELP Partnership.
Meg shared many valuable tips to help us become better networkers.
Top tip number one for taking the nightmare out networking is to prepare a set of questions before attending an event. Asking questions has three major benefits. Firstly, it demonstrates that you’re interested in the person you’re talking to, so lays the groundwork for a great rapport. Secondly, it puts the onus on others to speak, thus taking the spotlight away from you. And thirdly, it increases the chances of common areas of interest arising – and that always makes for an easier conversation.
Pre-organise your story
We all have a story to tell. It’s what makes us unique. And that’s why it’s a great idea to loosely structure your story in your head in advance of a networking situation. People will be interested what you do, but probably more so in why you do it, what you’ve learned from it – and what you want to do next. Don’t be afraid to be generous with your story – the more you offer, the more you’ll get back. Include personal milestones, too - they add colour to who you are and trigger further strands of your conversation.
A great way to keep things moving is to think in pictures. This helps to signpost you through your story.
Define your superpower
It’ll also help to focus on one single thing that you want people to remember you for. Are you a master problem solver? A financial wizard? A great team builder? Take some time to think about the impression you want to leave. By boiling it down to your superpower, you’re more likely than not to make a lasting impression,
Appearing confident can breed confidence. And the more space you take up, the more likely you’ll be to feel in command of your surroundings and the situations you find yourself in. Rehearse in front of a mirror to refine and naturalise your networking posture.
Find your favourite networking environments
Another great tip for getting the most out of networking is to avoid spreading yourself too thinly. Seek out networking organisations that align with the topics and themes that you’re most interested in and concentrate on no more than two or three of them. Quality always trumps quantity – even when it comes to the number of people in your network and the interactions you have with them. Think in terms of the depth of your relationships rather than how many you’re trying to build.
This is a must. When you make a connection that has potential to grow into a great contact, always follow up by the next day at the latest. Again, put quality over quantity. If you meet say, ten people at an event, choose three to follow up on. Categorising the type of relationships you’re looking to build can help you decide which new contacts you most want to cultivate and how to frame your approach.
Keep your digital presence updated
Meg’s final piece of advice was to keep on top of your online presence. You don’t need to be on every social media platform, however, it’s important to be aware of how you’re projecting yourself of those you are on. Be attentive and visible by sharing advice, information and your take on industry news and events. Similarly, as with offline networking, be the authentic you. And as your career develops, be sure to keep your online profiles up to date.
Learn more about The Quorum Initiative.