When networking, one of the pleasures I get is learning from the experiences and stories of others more experienced than me.
Last month, I attended a networking seminar jointly hosted by Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP) and the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investments (CISI). Held in the lavish surroundings of Signature Living’s 30 James Street hotel, this was hosted by Dougal Paver of Merrion Strategy, regarded as one of the most networked people in Liverpool. I have heard several great testimonials about Dougal’s networking skills, so I was looking forward to learning from a master.
From start to finish, Dougal delivered a first-class tour-de force seminar. Drawing on his vast experience with humour and wisdom, I was taken by the scope and breadth of Dougal’s networking knowledge, especially on the technical aspects, some of which I had never known previously. As a result, I not only found myself listening with great interest, but I also mentally related Dougal’s knowledge and understanding of networking to my own.
Along with consolidating my own knowledge, there were other useful techniques that I learned. Some of these were completely unique to me, as I had never thought about them, when attending past events and seminars.
These techniques included the following bellow:
- As the world changes you need to stay relevant, which is where networking helps.
- Small talk works as it helps to find common ground.
- Pay attention to what’s happening out there.
- Read the Economist and subscribe to your client’s trade magazines, and your industry’s newsletters.
- Networking won’t always deliver business, as it is about delivering long-term relationships, based on mutual trust and respect.
- Never dominate others, so remember to back off!
- Keep your social media activity professional.
- Plan what you can add to an event.
- Ask for the guest list.
- Evaluate what you got from an event and plan for the next.
- In theory, 150 is the maximum number of people you can maintain a relationship with.
- Demonstrate your capability and worth over time.
- Be reliable and always remember to follow-up.
- Your existing network must be nurtured with care.
- Remember to show your gratitude by saying thank you.
Dougal also explained about a key aspect of building and sustaining relationships. These include sending relevant articles, reports, and white papers, along with introducing clients to people who may help them, as well as inviting them to events. Another method to build relationships is to promote the work of your clients, e.g. blogs, articles and their businesses. Whilst I have applied some of the above, I have not always been consistent, meaning this is an area of personal development that I will need to address.
Overall I was very impressed with Dougal’s presentation of a true networking masterclass. From sharing his knowledge and experience, I was completely mesmerised by his performance, content delivery, humour and storytelling, which captured my attention throughout. In fact, I was so spellbound that I came out the seminar afterwards, feeling I had learned from a master networker. Such an experience is always a sign of a fine speaker, which is high praise indeed!
I would like to thank Dougal for presenting a magnificent seminar, MYP and CISI for organising a first-class opportunity for myself and everyone, and to the staff of 30 James Street for their hospitality. To conclude, I would like to end on the following point that encapsulates what networking is about.
Networking is what you make of who you know, and what use you let them make of you!