So you have just received an invitation to attend a networking session with professionals from an industry you are highly interested in. Now what?
Your mind promiscuously pieces together all the -past experiences, exposures and soft skills you accumulated on networking. Unlocking the puzzle a lot of preparatory thoughts reminisces in your mind that has become an apparent model of a successful networking event. Being punctilious in your attention to the rules of etiquette needs more navel-gazing, especially if you are a bird from a foreign land trying to learn the manners-d’art of the new macrocosm.
Last week, thanks to Elaine I got an opportunity to attend a workshop titled ‘How to Become a Confident and Effective Networker’ in Manchester, organised by ‘Kintish’ -a Business Networking Skills Training organization. Making my way through the final presentation on UKCP, I stumbled at the venue where Mr. Will Kintish, the founder-cum-trainer welcomed me along-with 11 other wannabe ‘effective networkers’.
A-ha the networking begins.
But, first things first. The settings augured that the session would be more than an archetypal delineation of classroom teachings. With Mr. Kintish orchestrating the workshop, kicking up some fine chemistry with a dozen disciples built not only upon the practical skills but also with the theoretical underpinnings of the most-reader friendly self-help book.
Working my way by recording the responses in a workbook, sharing responses with other members and playing the roles I refreshed my networking vocabulary. Small group exercises such as ‘Why do we network? What first impressions to create? What are the qualities of an effective networker? et. al. ‘The Kintish Networking Process’, reinforcing the traits of an effective networker sounded a bit familiar until we broke for coffee-and-cookies. Relishing the coffee sips, the group split into smaller sub-groups, indulging in an informal tete-a-tete when Mr. Kintish entered and commanded ‘Freeze’. Apparently there were 4 subgroups, giving Mr. Kintish superb platform to explain ‘Working the Room’ process. The coffee break unfolded hard hitting facts about networking, that turned our tongue-in-cheeks gaze over almost all that’s incongruous in classroom settings.
This 30 minutes exercise was the highlight of the workshop as it helped me practice and develop chutzpah on the stirring sub-text of the workshop on how to approach –Individuals, Open couples and trios, Closed couples and trios, Bigger groups and off-course the Callous souls.
Without being didactic and insipid Mr. Will, ‘Kintished’ all the participants, with his quintessential antics, throughout the day. Moving forward the workshop touched upon impersonal traits of networking that included –the follow up process with your new networks, making the phone call, constructing a voice mail message, handling the gatekeepers, and so on.
For me the session was very helpful as it combined all the aspects of successful networking, facilitated by highly experienced Mr. Will Kintish and some amazing role plays that add a refreshing authenticity to the workshop. With further customisations for MBA students, the workshop can add lasting value, even if we take away a couple of tips that potentially convert one interaction into a solid and stolid network. That’s what we all are actually looking for. Isn’t it so?