Networking has long been considered a critical part of career development. But for networking expert Rob Cullen, it’s about much more than that. “When you learn how to network, it doesn’t just improve your career – it improves your life too.”
Rob Cullen is a networking trainer and passionately believes that networking is the key to building a successful career. Looking to improve your networking skills? Check out these eight great tips from Rob.
Do your homework. Before going to an event, connect with attendees on LinkedIn. Rob says “make sure you are dressed appropriately and have business cards to hand out – and make sure yours stand out. First impressions are everything.”
While it’s tempting to stay in your comfort zone and connect with people you know at an event, make sure you meet new people. “Don’t be that person that goes to a networking event and hangs around with old friends and colleagues. You are there to grow your network, to do this you need to be meeting new people.”
According to Rob, listening is the most important skill when it comes to networking. He encourages networkers to “be interested, not interesting – give others your undivided attention.” Trust can be built more easily when people can tell you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Rob explains, “active listening can help your connections feel comfortable talking to you.
Connecting people makes you a better networker. Whenever you have an opportunity, introduce people to each other. “Be that person that welcomes people into a group.”
Get to know, like and trust people. Rob believes a great way to build trust and connection with others is to remember the little details they share. “People are always impressed if you remember seemingly small, trivial fact about them. These may, in fact, be very important to them. Often this revolves around families, holidays, books, films, foods etc.”
What are you the go to person for? Don’t just be an expert in your industry, be the expert. “Networking is not about what you know, it’s not about what you know, it’s all about who knows you.”
Networking is not sales. When selling, you are told to always be closing. Networking is all about giving. Rob explains, “ask people how you can help them, who can you introduce them to. All you are selling at a networking event is a cup of coffee.”
Networking doesn’t end when the event ends. Look for opportunities to meet those you connect with. “Don’t just collect business cards to stick in a drawer. Follow up with people as you never know where the next conversation could lead to and that is what networking is all about.”
Learn from Rob Cullen, the Chief Networking Officer
Research shows that people with strong, diverse networks receive more opportunities, are happier and live longer. IOB members can watch a full discussion with Rob Cullen on the power of networking on demand with IOB Learn. Rob also recently launched Better Networking, a new online course.