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3 tips to make the best of your next networking opportunity

Updated: Nov 5, 2018

Are you too busy doing the day job? Any spare moment you have is about reducing the amount of emails you have, right! Then how do you make time to learn something new?

Most senior and middle managers tell me that there diaries are full of back to back meetings that they tend to skip lunch, catch up on emails in the evening and more concerning cancelling important items out of the diary like 1:1's or coaching their team.

"I feel guilty if i make time for myself and my own development. I would love to do some personal development or attend a conference, if i only had time"

The key to continuous learning in a busy company, is about taking the opportunity from the activities you are already scheduled to do or the workplaces you already visit. Primarily run the mantra in your head, "what can I learn from who today".

Below you will find 3 tips to improve how you can add learning and take meaning from your networking opportunity.

1. Formalise informal networking

Identify one person a week to catch up with inside your organisation. No need for a meeting or a purpose. How about a quick coffee or lunch. While running my business I am always trying spot the opportunity to informally catch up with someone else when I am with a client or in a certain area of the country. The only agenda item in your mind should be curiosity. Think what are they doing? how are they doing? what challenges are they dealing with? where could we collaborate more? Through being curious you will learn a different perspective that can only add to your thinking and your choices.

2. What you knew when meeting someone new

When bumping into or meeting someone new in the course of carrying out your role, what do you learn? There are always opportunities to gain knowledge or insight from new people whether they be suppliers, customers, or delegates at a conference. The challenge is remembering it. Keep a small journal to capture "moments of insight". You can then decide if you want to follow up on it as opposed to forget you ever heard it or worse who said it.

3. Give and be given

By making time to share challenges you face in your role or organisations when meeting people often results in opinion and ideas from others that may be useful. By avoiding platitudes or ritual cliche in networking offer a question or a challenge for the other person(s) to consider. The result being you get some ideas that might help you, people love to give advice it makes them feel good!

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