How to get started with networking? How does networking turn into useful contacts? The Arctic Startup Joppe Quaedvlieg tried to answer these questions at the end of November in Waffle Wednesday. In addition, he went through practical steps to effectively bring your expertise to life.
As the working life evolves, the proportion of freelancers and startups is increasing. This has led to more and more work being done at office hotels, and from coworking spaces like Wonderland. With these changes, the importance of personal networks has also increased as traditional work communities disappear and the importance of external support is greater than ever. At their best, networks offer the opportunity for new business opportunities and often facilitate job search when it is topical.
We started Waffle Wednesday by going through what networking means for each person. For others, networking is easy, challenging for others. Others do not seem to find time for networking, while others feel that there is too little scope for networking. There are also very different things expected from networking: help, lessons from others or new business opportunities. In practice, we immediately networked with each other, simply shaking hands and introducing ourselves to all the other participants. In this way, Joppe’s goal was to show that networking is not strange, “say hello and present yourself!”
According to Joppe, networking is not taken seriously. Even the English term “network” gives the feeling that networking requires a lot of work. However, we should take a more relaxed approach to the issue and think of it as unconscious activity. In this case, networking becomes a habit, and you do not have to look for possible networking opportunities separately. For example, coworking spaces are a great opportunity for this, as long as you dare to go boldly to talk to others. When networking starts in this way, getting to know new people is a constant and soon you will notice that you can network anywhere.
Build a story about your skills
According to Joppe, the general problem with one’s own expertise is don’t know how to show their own strengths to others. You often belittle your expertise. People feel that their own skills are not special or that “everyone else knows this”. This illusion should be eliminated.
How should you tell about your own skills? One of the participants said they were good at event production. The discussion continued, and with a few more specific questions, the same participant told me more about the skills they had, the challenges of the work, how he had solved the problems and what tools he used in his work. With these stories told by the participants, each of us understood how versatile and demanding the work of an event producer is, and what kind of know-how is needed to succeed at work.
All in all, this example emphasized to us how important it is to voice your expertise. When you tell your own expertise in the form of stories, using your own examples, you will show your own expertise in a versatile and comprehensible form.
How to effectively communicate your own expertise?
- Know your own skills and strengths: think about your strongest competence in general, such as event production, marketing, teaching, etc.
- Chop your knowledge into sections: What skills do you need to succeed in your work? For example, are you good at organizing larger entities, generating content, or especially dealing with stressful situations? Remember not to underestimate your skills!
- Build a story from each section – tell us what happened, when and why. In a good story, you tell the real situation about your life in which you have used your skills. Have you encountered the challenges you’ve been able to overcome thanks to your talents?
- Practice telling the story so it’s natural to link it to the conversation.
How to network effectively?
We are now in a position where you have carefully captured your own skills and strengths, and built stories about them. In order to take advantage of these stories in practice, you may want to ask your networking companion about the challenges they or their company face. When you listen to the answer to your question, you can begin to go through a list of your skills (as well as stories related to these skills) in your head. Maybe you have some experience to help them, or do you know someone who could help them?
As the conversation continues, you can easily swim your own story into it, telling how you have sorted out the same type of problems that your listener has encountered. No matter what your goal was in networking, you’ve already convinced your listener about your expertise. This is especially useful when looking for a new job.
The best part of this type of networking is the enthusiasm of the narrator telling about their own strengths and skills in the form of a story. When their expression becomes clearer and the smile rises, they immediately give a better impression with their listeners.
In addition to these lessons, we should always keep in mind when we are networking what we have to give others, rather than focusing solely on our own interests. This way you will focus on genuine encounters.